On an exposed area near the autobahn 7, the SMA ground-based plant on Sandershäuser Berg can be viewed far and wide in the North Hessian community of Niestetal. In operation for ten months, the PV power plant has been supplying clean solar energy to the adjacent Solar Factory 3 as well as other corporate buildings of SMA Solar Technology AG in Niestetal.
Walkers, joggers, people walking dogs and of course photovoltaic fans who are out and about on Sandershäuser Berg will have the opportunity to find out more about the PV power plant thanks to information boards telling about its dimensions, components and capacity. SMA customers, guests and other SMA visitors can find out about the technology in the power plant by taking tours within the secured areas.
Supplying SMA buildings with sustainable solar energy is only one part of what the PV plant covering a massive area of 42,000 m² near the federal autobahn 7 is set up to do. First of all, the high-capacity PV power plant with its roughly 3.13 MWp makes it possible to carry out field tests for new SMA system solutions, inverters and medium-voltage systems under real conditions. The plant also offers the opportunity to test further SMA components such as DC technology, communication technology and PV farm controllers.
In order to produce the three gigawatt hours of photovoltaic energy that this PV power plant produces, one million liters of diesel fuel would be needed in remote regions.
The central inverter development operates the PV power plant and it acts as an expansion of the developmental test area. SMA employees Christian Asteroth and Jens Alter now manage the plant. They make sure the plant is operating properly and plan tests at the PV plant and the integrated medium-voltage testing facility.
Significant reductions in CO2 emissions and energy costs
“We perform field tests under 1,000 and 1,500 DC voltages with the SMA Utility Power System” says Christian Asteroth. “In doing so, we can compile important information about everything from operations to maintenance long before commissioning at our customers. Though we were able to test medium-voltage components and simulate the control behavior on the utility grid side in the laboratory, here, we can rest assured that our customers are getting fail-safe systems. In some markets such as South Africa, only inverters and systems with several years of proven operation in the field are permitted for sale. Our PV power plant allows us to provide tried and tested components.”
“The units under test at the medium-voltage test center can be operated as either on grid (20 kV grid) or off grid”, describes Jens Althof the project.
“The latter allows varying medium-voltage levels and power frequencies. Tests can thus be performed on medium-voltage components at the normal market frequency of 60 Hz. Another positive side effect is that we can further lower the energy costs and CO² emissions at SMA.”
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