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12 July 2018

NREL/CAISO/First Solar joint grid reliability study wins Smarter E Award for Outstanding Project

© Semiconductor Today Magazine / Juno PublishiPicture: Disco’s DAL7440 KABRA laser saw.

At the Intersolar Europe 2018 conference in Munich, Germany (19-22 June), cadmium telluride (CdTe) thin-film photovoltaic module maker First Solar Inc of Tempe, AZ, USA has received the inaugural Smarter E Award for an Outstanding Project. The award recognized a test conducted jointly by First Solar, the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and grid operator California ISO (CAISO) on a newly built 300MW utility-scale photovoltaic (PV) power plant in California that demonstrated its ability to provide highly responsive services essential for maintaining reliability of the grid.

“The study proves that more solar can be integrated into the grid, enabling even further growth in the PV industry,” said First Solar’s VP of systems development Mahesh Morjaria on accepting the award.

The tests demonstrated the role of advanced power controls in leveraging solar PV’s value from simply an intermittent energy resource to providing services, including spinning reserves, load following, voltage support, ramping, frequency response, variability smoothing, frequency regulation, and improved power quality.

“The project team carried out a pioneering demonstration concept to show how various types of active and reactive power controls can leverage PV generation’s value from being a simple variable energy resource to a resource that provides a wide range of essential reliability services,” said Vahan Gevorgian, chief engineer in NREL’s Integrated Devices and Systems group and principal investigator with the project.

The tests demonstrated that solar plants can react rapidly to grid signals regarding frequency regulation, and more accurately than conventional generation such as thermal, hydro or gas turbines – and can be tightly regulated.

Criteria for the Outstanding Project 2018 Award included demonstration that the nominated project was exemplary for global future applications and was unique in its realization. Emphasis was placed on innovation and a pioneering spirit in the exploration of renewable energy applications. The Smarter E Awards program was introduced at the 2018 InterSolar EU conference as a way to recognize groundbreaking work in the energy transition towards a low carbon future.

The Smarter E review jury cited the NREL/CAISO/First Solar study as a “proof of concept… a game-changer for large-scale solar plants” that demonstrated how “solar power plants can not only reduce the need for carbon-emitting resources, but can also improve system performance and operate with significantly higher levels of variable generation.”

“The results of this project can be used as a door opener to convince stakeholders that utility-scale solar can contribute to the reliability and stability of the grid and provide essential grid services that are today often associated with conventional generation,” the citation concluded.

Tags: First Solar Thin-film photovoltaic CdTe

Visit: www.firstsolar.com

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