The SolarTie System was designed to lower the Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE) for utility-scale solar power plants. A great deal of attention is being given to reducing the LCOE, which defines how much the energy produced really costs.

AMSC's SolarTie™ System

Jason Fredette | AMSC

Tell me about AMSC’s SolarTie™ system.

AMSC’s SolarTie System is a solar inverter and plant solution. It is one of the most robust, utility-scale solar PV inverter solutions on the market. It features superior uptime performance, a high-efficiency rating, and wide AC & DC operating ranges. This, together with the ability to withstand the harshest environments, makes our SolarTie inverter the optimal solution to ensure customers are getting the most energy production from their solar plant.

The SolarTie System was designed to lower the Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE) for utility-scale solar power plants. A great deal of attention is being given to reducing the LCOE, which defines how much the energy produced really costs. In simple terms, the cost metric in LCOE consists of up-front capital costs, O&M expenses and the energy yield of the plant. AMSC’s SolarTie solution minimizes installation and O&M costs and maximizes the energy yield of the plant, resulting in a lower LCOE.


How does AMSC’s SolarTie system lower the levelized cost of energy?

We can provide the lowest LCOE because our customers benefit from:

Lowered capital expenditures because we are a turnkey provider with optimized installation costs and a competitive inverter price.

Lowered operating expenses because of our superior product reliability, maintainability and guaranteed grid compliance.

Higher revenue due to our high inverter efficiency and improved energy yield performance.


What is AMSC’s experience in solar?

AMSC’s SolarTie solution was built by combining two of our proven and proprietary technologies – our D-VAR® STATCOM solution and PowerMOdule™ converter system – that today are connecting over 15 gigawatts (GW) of wind and solar power to the grid worldwide.


What is the plant controls and monitoring feature?

The plant control and monitoring feature provides system-level control and monitoring of the plant operation and performance. Our Solar Plant Controller is a robust and secure SCADA system that is able to control solar plant power output, provide precise regulation of voltage or power factor (PF) at POI and monitor the entire plant for its performance. It also allows remote plant control and monitoring, which has proven crucial in quickly debugging remote systems. As part of the control and monitoring feature, AMSC’s proprietary condition monitoring system allows for real-time prediction and prevention of equipment failure to maintain plant health, minimize O&M costs and optimize plant performance. This scheme has been proven worldwide in hundreds of sites where our D-VAR STATCOM product is applied.


What grid compliance capabilities does the SolarTie have?

Utility-scale solar power plants are being required to meet stringent mandates for reliability and grid-friendliness (grid management capability). They must meet power factor requirements, provide voltage control, meet low and high voltage ride-through requirements, and in addition, are being required to be “good utility citizen” as part of a growing renewable portfolio. The SolarTie solution meets all of these needs.   The SolarTie system:

Is grid-friendly and will not disconnect from the utility when it is most needed, such as during power system disturbances.

Actively supports the grid so that when disturbances do occur, the plant is prepared to help the grid recover.

Provides continuous voltage support to help keep the system voltages smooth and stable, even if the power output of the plant varies due to clouds or other factors during the course of the day.

Comes with complimentary interconnection studies that help our customers define the most optimized solution for grid interconnection.


Has the SolarTie been fielded anywhere?

We have successfully tested our system and are now seeking initial customers.


What other products and services does AMSC provide?

AMSC provides solutions to both the renewable energy and grid markets. Through our Windtec Solutions, we provide wind turbine manufacturers with the proprietary wind turbine designs, extensive scale-up support services and advanced power electronics and control systems that they need to launch best-in-class wind turbines quickly, effectively and profitably.  Our Gridtec Solutions are a set of engineering planning services and advanced grid systems that optimize network reliability, efficiency and performance from the point of generation through transmission and distribution.


Where is the solar equipment market growing the fastest now?

The utility-scale solar market is growing faster than commercial or residential markets with over 35 GW of utility solar expected to be installed by 2016, according to IMS Research. China, US and India will be the three biggest markets for utility scale solar, expecting to install 8.5 GW, 6.5 GW and 5.7 GW respectively by 2016.


What does the US need to do to increase the construction of solar power plants?

Overall, the U.S. needs a strong and stable renewable energy policy. Beyond that, owners and developers need the tools to lower the cost of solar electricity, hence the importance of such tools that help lower a solar plant LCOE. The closer solar gets to grid parity, the more widespread the adoption.

The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of AltEnergyMag

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