EME 812
Utility Solar Power and Concentration




This lesson considers the principles of connecting solar cells to modules, and modules to arrays and larger systems for utility-scale electricity generation. To ensure the high-efficiency operation of an array or plant, a number of system components and pieces of equipment are needed. Here you will learn about some of those items and their purpose. Some of the designer's questions are: How do we put those components together and properly connect them? How do we select and match the electrical parameters of those components? What electrical and civil works are required to build a large scale PV plant? We will see how these questions are answered for different scales and different structural variations of photovoltaic systems.

For grid-connected PV systems, such parameters as voltage, current, and frequency should be matched to the ranges used by the grid. DC voltage may need to be stepped up or stepped down to match the grid requirements, and finally, DC power needs to be converted to AC power. All these steps constitute power conditioning, which is performed by an inverter - a special device that is responsible for seamless integration of solar power into the electric grid. In this lesson, we will learn about different types of inverters, their operation principle, their role, and conversion efficiency. The activities for this lesson will include a discussion forum and a reading quiz. 

Learning Objectives

By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

  1. explain basic strategies for the design of large scale PV plants;
  2. name the key components of PV systems and explain their purpose and basic principle of operation;
  3. list the main types of solar inverters and explain their role and efficiencies;
  4. discuss the key issues related to the connection of PV systems to the grid.


Book Chapter: Mertens, K. and Hanser, K.F., Photovoltaics: Fundamentals, Technology, and Practice, John Wiley & Sons, 2013. Chapter 6: Solar Modules and Solar Generators, pp. 133-159.

Book chapter: Mertens, K and Hanser K.F., Photovoltaics: Fundamentals, Technology and Practice, Chapter 7: Photovoltaic System Technology, pp. 161-181.

Book Chapter: Komoto, K., Ito, M., van der Vleuten, P., Faiman, D., and Kurokawa, K., Energy from the Desert, Chapter 7. MW-Scale PV System Installation Technologies, pp. 86-98.

Industry Guide: "Inverters and PV System Technology (Industry Guide)"  Solarpraxis AG, Berlin, Germany, 2011.