Fundamentals of Solar Power Plant Design

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Course Overview

Learn the design fundamentals of photovoltaic projects. Gain knowledge and skills from engineers with real-life experience in solar energy and electrical delivery fields. You will also understand solar plant components and PV modules; DC system and AC collector design; civil and geotechnical issues; and interconnection to distribution and the bulk power grid.

Who Should Attend?

This course will benefit those new to the field of solar energy and those in need of a refresher, including:

  • Renewable energy developers
  • Electric utility design or planning engineers
  • Power system dispatchers
  • Consulting engineers
  • Project managers
  • Managers of design departments
  • Engineering technicians

Course Outline

Energy from the Sun

  • Solar irradiance principles
  • Measure of merit for incident solar
  • What makes a location good?
  • Factors affecting incident energy
  • Diurnal/seasonal pattern of incident energy

Solar Power Assessment

  • Solar insolation mapping
  • Standards
  • Uncertainty and "bankability"
  • Data collection and analysis
  • Reports and graphs

Electric Power Generation and Delivery Fundamentals

  • Power system fundamentals
  • Conversion of DC to AC
  • Power flow analysis example
  • Real and reactive power
  • Power system operation, control and protection

Photovoltaic Basics

  • Semiconductors and the photovoltaic effect
  • A brief history of the development of PV cells
  • Cell materials: mono- and poly-crystalline silicon, cadmium telluride,

CIGS

  • Makeup of solar panels from solar cells
  • Conversion efficiency

Solar Plant Components and Overview

  • Plant design and optimization
  • Solar panels and racks
  • DC electrical connections
  • Inverter block with step-up transformer
  • AC collection
  • Power plant controls and grid integration features

Solar Cells and Modules

  • Current-irradiance and voltage-temperature relationships
  • Power-current relationship and maximum power point
  • Incidence angle
  • Electrical effect of shading
  • Hot spots and by-pass diodes
  • Reliability, testing, and spectral response

DC System Design

  • Panel sizing for site conditions
  • Connecting panels as a string
  • String planning and layout
  • String DC combination levels
  • DC cabling to inverter
  • DC system protection
  • Losses within strings

Inverter and Power Control

  • The inverter as the heart of the power block
  • Inverter equipment and modules
  • DC connections from re-combiner
  • Maximizing energy harvest through DC voltage control
  • AC current regulation for real and reactive power

AC Collector System

  • Collector system overview and single-line
  • Collector layout and installation
  • Load flow modeling and sizing of conductors
  • Inverters and step-up transformers
  • System grounding considerations
  • Reactive power and harmonic filters

Civil and Geotechnical Issues

  • Geotechnical investigations: site preparation and earthworks, foundation considerations
  • Ground-mount foundation solutions, rammed posts, helicals, or ground screws; ballast systems
  • Design loads: dead loads; wind, snow, and seismic zones; adfreeze considerations
  • Racking assembly
  • Panel installation, connections, and wiring
  • Measurement of soil thermal resistivity

Interconnection of Renewable Energy Plants with the Electric Grid

  • Interconnection agreements and studies
  • Grid codes
  • Disturbance ride-through
  • Post-fault recovery
  • Solar plant modeling in power system analyses
  • Cloud transients, ramp rates, and the case for energy storage

Connection of Distributed PV Solar Units

  • Market drivers of rooftop PV units
  • Impacts of rooftop PV units on a distribution feeder: voltage considerations, harmonics, feeder ampacity limits
  • Distribution feeder PV "hosting" limits

Bulk Power System Considerations

  • IEEE 1547 and "Smart Inverters"
  • Emerging needs for low voltage ride through: emerging needs for voltage / power factor control, status and changes in the standard
  • Changing load curves due to solar variability

Instructors

James Niemira

James K. Niemira, P.E., is a Principal Engineer of S&C Electric Company in the Power Systems Solutions organization. He has over 30 years of professional experience in the electric power industry. Present responsibilities include oversight of analysis and design work in the Engineering Services and Consulting & Analytical Services. Mr. Niemira has performed design work, field start‐up, and commissioning of wind power plant substations and data center substation sites; expansions of existing substations; distribution system protection and automation projects with protective relays; substation design, and collector system design for renewable energy generation sites (wind and solar); and the analytic studies to support these designs.

He is active in the IEEE/PES Power System Relay & Control Committee; a member of the Technical Committee of the NFPA 70E Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace; and is a licensed Professional Engineer in 31 states.

Mahesh Morjaria

Dr. Mahesh Morjaria is one of the founders of REPlantSolutions, a First Solar spin-off, whose mission is to bring advanced solar plant technologies and know-how developed at First Solar to the industry.  Previously, he was a VP at First Solar leading the R&D effort in utility-scale solar plants. Over the past decade, he has established himself as an industry-recognized leader in the area of solar generation and in addressing challenges associated with integrating solar into the power grid. Dr. Morjaria previously worked at GE for twenty years where he held various leadership positions including a significant role in wind energy. His academic credits include B.Tech from IIT Bombay and M.S. & Ph.D. from Cornell University.

Nick Strevel

Nicholas Strevel is VP of Products and Applications at Link Engineering Company. His primary focus is development of Electric Vehicle testing equipment from traction drives, to battery systems. Previously he was Director of Global Technical Sales at First Solar specializing in PV module technology and performance. He has authored numerous publications about CdTe (Cadmium Telluride) technology, performance and PV module reliability. He has worked in the thin-film PV technology space for 12 years in module manufacturing, application engineering and business development. Prior to joining First Solar, Nicholas held positions in Application Engineering, and Process Engineering at United Solar Ovonic both in the USA and in Germany. His detailed experience includes design and applications of >50MW of various scale PV projects from off grid to residential to utility scale in over 15 countries. Nicholas has a BSME in Mechanical Engineering from Michigan State University including diploma studies at the Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule, Aachen.

Nicholas also serves on the board of directors of the Glass City Community Solar Foundation, which has a mission to bring the economic, sustainability, and educational benefits of PV to low-income housing.

Mike Arnold

Professor, UW-Madison Department of Materials Science and Engineering

Keith Beisner

Sunlink Corporation

James Tinjum

Dr. James M. Tinjum, PE, is responsible for outreach, research, and continuing engineering education in the areas of geotechnical, geoenvironmental, and energy geotechnics with an emphasis on transmitting practical research applications directly to the engineering community. Over the past ten years, he has specialized (consulting, expert support, and research) in foundation investigation, monitoring, and research into foundations for wind turbine generators. 

Bulent Sarlioglu

Bulent Sarlioglu is a Jean van Bladel Associate Professor at University of Wisconsin–Madison, and Associate Director, Wisconsin Electric Machines and Power Electronics Consortium (WEMPEC). Dr. Sarlioglu spent more than ten years at Honeywell International Inc.’s aerospace division, most recently as a staff system engineer, earning Honeywell’s technical achievement award in 2003 and an outstanding engineer award in 2011.  Dr. Sarlioglu contributed to multiple programs where high-speed electric machines and drives are used mainly for aerospace and ground vehicle applications. Dr. Sarlioglu is the inventor or co-inventor of 20 US patents and many other international patents. He published more than 200 journal and conference papers with his students. His research areas are motors and drives including high-speed electric machines, novel electric machines, and application of wide bandgap devices to power electronics to increase efficiency and power density. He received the NSF CAREER Award in 2016 and the 4th Grand Nagamori Award from Nagamori Foundation, Japan in 2019. Dr. Sarlioglu became IEEE IAS Distinguished Lecturer in 2019.  He was the technical program co-chair for ECCE 2019 and was the general chair for ITEC 2018.  He is serving as a special session co-chair for ECCE 2020.

 

 

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Program Director

Bulent Sarlioglu

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