Gap analysis towards a design qualification standard development for grid-connected photovoltaic inverters

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The high penetration of photovoltaic (PV) both at the utility and at the distribu-tion levels, has raised concerns about the reliability of grid-tied inverters of PV power systems. Inverters are

The high penetration of photovoltaic (PV) both at the utility and at the distribu-tion levels, has raised concerns about the reliability of grid-tied inverters of PV power systems. Inverters are generally considered as the weak link in PV power systems. The lack of a dedicated qualification/reliability standard for PV inverters is a main barrier in realizing higher level of confidence in reliability. Development of a well-accepted design qualification standard specifically for PV inverters will help pave the way for significant improvement in reliability and performance of inverters across the entire industry. The existing standards for PV inverters such as UL 1741 and IEC 62109-1 primarily focus on safety. IEC 62093 discusses inverter qualification but it includes all the balance of sys-tem components and therefore not specific to PV inverters. There are other general stan-dards for distributed generators including the IEEE1547 series of standards which cover major concerns like utility integration but they are not dedicated to PV inverters and are not written from a design qualification point of view. In this thesis, some of the potential requirements for a design qualification standard for PV inverters are addressed. The IEC 62093 is considered as a guideline and the possible inclusions in the framework for a dedicated design qualification standard of PV inverter are discussed. The missing links in existing PV inverter related standards are identified by performing gap analysis. Dif-ferent requirements of small residential inverters compared to large utility-scale systems, and the emerging requirements on grid support features are also considered. Electric stress test is found to be the key missing link and one of the electric stress tests, the surge withstand test is studied in detail. The use of the existing standards for surge withstand test of residential scale PV inverters is investigated and a method to suitably adopt these standards is proposed. The proposed method is studied analytically and verified using simulation. A design criterion for choosing the switch ratings of the inverter that can per-form reliably under the surge environment is derived.