Data indicate that the inverter is the element of the photovoltaic plant that has the highest number of service calls and the greatest operation and maintenance cost burden. This paper describes the projects and relevant background needed in developing design qualification standards that would serve to establish a minimum level of reliability, along with a review of photovoltaic inverter quality and safety standards, most of which are in their infancy. We compare stresses and levels for accelerated testing of inverters proposed in the standard drafts, and those proposed by manufacturers and purchasers of inverters. We also review bases for the methods, stress types, and stress levels for durability testing of key inverter components. Many of the test protocols appear to need more comprehensive inclusion of stress factors existing in the natural environment such as wind driven rain, dust, and grid disturbances. Further understanding of how temperature, humidity ingress, and voltage bias affect the inverters and their components is also required. We provide data indicating inconsistent quality of the inverters and the durability of components leading to greater cost for the photovoltaic plant operator. Accordingly, the recommendation for data collection within quality standards for obtaining cost of ownership metrics is made. Design validation testing using realistic operation, environmental, and connection conditions, including under end-use field conditions with feedback for continuous improvement is recommended for inclusion within a quality standard.
- Power conversion electronics
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment