SMA Sunny Central Inverters Used in World’s Largest PV Plant

SMA America is proud to power what is expected to be the largest operational PV plant in the world upon completion. Construction on the 290 MW Agua Caliente solar project in Yuma County, near Dateland, Ariz., is under way, with completion expected in 2014.

Built by First Solar Inc., Agua Caliente will generate enough clean solar energy to serve the needs of about 100,000 average homes per year when fully operational. In addition to First Solar’s advanced thin film PV modules, the 2,400-acre plant will feature more than 400 SMA Sunny Central 720CP inverters. The project already has been named Solar Project of the Year by Renewable Energy World and PV Project of the Year by Solar Power Generation USA.

“The challenging environmental conditions and high quality expectations of our partners made the Sunny Central 720CP an ideal choice for this groundbreaking solar project,” said Jurgen Krehnke, president and general manager of SMA America. “We are excited to witness the commissioning and start of clean power production.”

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Sunny Central CP inverters are specially designed for use in large, open-field PV power plants such as Agua Caliente. With peak efficiencies more than 98 percent, they are among the most efficient central inverters on the market.

The Sunny Central CP series of inverters, which won the Intersolar Award 2010 in the photovoltaics category, is well-suited for the Arizona sun thanks to SMA’s OptiCool temperature management solution, which allows it to operate at full nominal power with ambient temperatures up to 50 C.

In continuous operation, the Sunny Central 720CP can feed 792 kVA to the grid at ambient temperatures of up to 25 C — 110 percent rated nominal power, resulting in increased power production.

With powerful grid management functions, operators are also perfectly prepared for today’s utility requirements, as well as those still to come.

NRG Energy acquired Agua Caliente in August 2011. First Solar will continue to build, operate and maintain the project. Power generated by the installation will be sold to the Pacific Gas and Electric Company.

This isn’t the first time groundbreaking projects have featured SMA technology at sites with challenging climates. SMA inverters have been used in desert installations in Gila Bend, Ariz., as well as Santa Teresa and Cimarron, N.M. They are also present at the current world’s largest PV installation in Sarnia, Ontario, where temperatures regularly present the opposite challenge.

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