ABB has supplied its state-of-the-art PVS-100 solar inverter for a rooftop solar installation at Hildon Water. This solar system enhances the bottled water supplier’s environmental performance by reducing energy bills and saving energy.
Hildon Water is a supplier of high-quality natural mineral water, based in the Test Valley in rural Hampshire, where it sources and bottles water from a natural aquifer. To realize its rooftop solar installation, it turned to Edward Energy, a Kent-based developer and EPC (Engineering, Procurement and Construction) partner BeBa Energy, a well-established installation, operation and maintenance specialist. They have designed and supplied a system rated at 250 kWp (kilowatt peak), the installation includes 908 solar panels as well as two solar inverters. These convert the power from the direct current (DC) generated by the PV panels into alternating current (AC), which is used on the grid.
The scheme will generate around 220 MWh (megawatt-hours) of energy annually and cut Hildon Water’s electricity bill by a quarter, giving a payback period of eight years with a guaranteed lifetime of at least 25 years.
When specifying the two solar inverters for the site, BeBa selected ABB’s PVS-100 due to its high performance, built-in communication capabilities and ease of installation.
Stephen Palmer, BeBa Energy’s Managing Director said: “We’re not just an EPC contractor – we also provide operation and maintenance support throughout the life of solar installations. As a result, we wanted an inverter that would meet the technical specification, provide reliable service over the long term, and also enable our operations team to keep tabs on the site’s operation remotely. We’ve been working with ABB inverters for around eight years and know that they provide comprehensive technical support and spare parts.”
High performance to maximise output
While panels act as the muscles of an installation, solar inverters are the brains. Inside an inverter, power electronics circuit boards convert the power and control how much is drawn from different groups of panels.
The extensive rooftop of Hildon Water’s bottling plant is an ideal site for a photovoltaic (PV) installation. However, its east and west-facing sections experience different levels of solar irradiation during the day. This is a common challenge in solar installations and is further complicated at some sites due to partial shading at certain times of day. As a result, PV production varies between groups of panels.
To allow management of the power generated from these complex roofs, the PVS-100 has six MPPTs (Maximum Power Point Tracking). This ‘six Inverters in one box’ effect allows great flexibility to mitigate any shading issues while dealing with different aspects or orientations.
When designing the PVS-100, ABB optimised the internal layout to create an inverter with a high power density – in turn enabling operators to pack more capacity into a smaller space. In addition, the inverter comes as an all-in-one unit with inverter components, as well as DC and AC power connectors, fuses and surge protection devices.
For an EPC, this eliminates the need to design, install and test a dedicated wiring box and therefore reduces the effort required to engineer and install an inverter. In addition, the entire unit is covered by a warranty.
Not only does Hildon Water’s solar installation generate power, but a display in reception shows the level of production in real time. BeBa can also tap into operational data from its remote control centre. This is thanks to the communication capabilities of the PVS-100, which has two dedicated apps to support communication. One is for end users so that the customers like Hildon Water can check and share levels of PV production, for example on their website.
The other app provides in-depth operational data for electrical specialists like BeBa. Its team can monitor the performance of the installation over time, diagnose any potential issues quickly and proactively send a technician to the site with the right spares. As a result, the solar inverter can help O&M contractors like BeBa Energy to make the most of their time.
Compact unit for two-person installation
The inverter is also smaller than the previous generation of inverters thanks to the advanced design of the power electronics inside the unit, as well as the cooling. This compact size is important as it provides flexibility in terms of positioning the units and makes access easier.
It also means more straightforward installation – and because the weight of components is evenly distributed inside the cabinet, the unit is well balanced and easy for two technicians to handle and install. In turn, this enables installation to be completed in just one day for the connection, testing and commissioning of each unit.
While performance is a top priority for BeBa’s engineers, they also require assurance of long-term performance. As a specialist in rooftop solar installation, as well as operation and maintenance (O&M), BeBa Energy has been working with ABB’s inverters for around eight years.
According to ABB’s Sales Manager for Renewable Energy, Paul Meehan: “Since ABB introduced the PVS-100 solar inverter in November 2018, it has quickly become a workhorse of the commercial rooftop solar business, with more than 10,000 units installed worldwide. It is well designed with clever electronics to make the most of solar resources, as well as to provide data for customers over a secure web connection – with real financial and operational benefits for our customers.”