The research arm of General Electric (GE) has been awarded $4.2 million (£3.3m) to develop and deploy advanced inverter control technologies that can support higher amounts of solar power while improving grid stability.
Solar and wind inverters connected to the grid depend upon existing voltage and frequency levels to deliver power, which is different from traditional generators like gas and steam turbines, which dictate or form the voltage and frequency levels at which the grid operates.
GE Research will use the funding from the US Department of Energy to develop “grid-forming” controls that will allow solar and wind inverters to form voltage and frequency levels like traditional generators, creating an opportunity for greater and more resilient integration of these resources into the grid.
GE says while grid-forming inverter control technology is now new, the big challenge is enabling many distributed grid-forming inverter resources to act together like traditional generators without causing stability issues.
The inverter improvements will support the increasingly distributed, renewable-intensive grid in the US – according to data from the Energy Information Administration, renewable electricity generation doubled from 382 million MWh in 2008 to 742 million MWh in 2018, with solar generation increasing nearly 50 times during the same period.
Maozhong Gong, Senior Engineer, Electric Power Technologies, GE Research said: “When it comes to solar and other renewable resources, all roads lead through the inverter. As the nation’s grid sees more electricity from the sun and wind, it will require advanced inverters to maintain reliability.
“As part of this project, we will develop and field-test advanced grid-forming controls that enable many distributed resources to deliver reliable and resilient power like traditional generators do. We will test and validate these new technologies utilising GE Renewable Energy’s commercial PV LV5 inverter platform. The goal is to have a solution ready to commercially deploy and implement to support the nation’s increasing solar power portfolio.”