Getting ahead of solar power market

Along with Viet Nam on the way to develop renewable energy, GE has introduced new, more advanced technology solutions, contributing to unlock the potential of solar power in Viet Nam.

The market with prospects

Because of fast development in economy, Viet Nam is facing the pressure on energy demand. Although Viet Nam still has been using traditional resources such as coal, hydropower and gas to generate power, ensure national energy security, in the long term, the needed is to aim to build up a balanced energy structure by developing renewable energy, in which, solar energy is currently advantageous because the price of technology and equipment is sharply reduced and the trend of switching to renewable energy is expanding in the world.

Viet Nam is considered to have a huge potential of solar power, equivalent to other countries having developed solar energy market in the region such as China, Thailand, Philippines or markets of traditional energy such as: Italy and Spain. Particularly, the total number of sunny hour in Viet Nam is about 1,600 - 2,700 hours/year and the annual average solar radiation reaches about 4-5kWh/m2/day.

The plan of national power development for the period of 2011-2020 and vision to 2030 (Power Plan VII) also determines the priority in  solar power development which will raise the installed capacity from 6 - 7MW in 2017 to about 850MW in 2020 and about 12,000MW in 2030, equivalent to 1.6% and 3.3% of the total power capacity.

In order to achieve this target, the Vietnamese Government issued some preferential policies to encourage the investment in the solar energy field.

In April 2017, the Government issued Decision No. 11/2017/QD-TTg on developing solar power in Viet Nam, in which, the regulated price of power purchase is 9.35 UScent/kWh. In September 2017, the Ministry of Industry and Trade issued Circular No. 16/2017/TT-BCT detailing the regulations on project development and Sample power purchase agreement applied for solar power projects in Viet Nam. The issuance of new power purchase price and the Sample power purchase agreement has created a legal basis for attracting the private investment in the solar power market in Viet Nam.

With the incentive policy, the solar power market in Viet Nam is increasingly receiving the attention by major investors. Many domestic and foreign enterprises are actively developing plans to develop solar power projects in Viet Nam. The next step is to select the suitable technology to realize those projects.

GE keeping ahead of solar power market

1.5kV technology advantage

The PV Inverter is a direct current (DC) converter from solar energy to alternating current (AC) directly connected to the national power grid.

GE has focused on improving the inverter technology by increasing the voltage, thereby generating more power per square meter. Thus, solar power farms can effectively operate on smaller areas and with lower requirements of infrastructure investment. The 1kV-technology inverter was quite commonly used few years ago, currently, it is gradually replaced by the 1.5-kV-standard inverter produced by GE and first launched in 2012.

When combined with a solar panel in capacity of 330Wp, 1.5kV inverter will reduce system costs by 3% and operating costs by 15%. Thanks to remarkable efficiency and low-competitive cost, GE’s 1.5kV technology is widely applied worldwide and gradually replaces the 1kV standard set. The first projects applying 1.5kV technology are in Asian countries such as Japan and India. Currently, investors use 1.5kV technology to develop solar power in order to reduce costs and increase investment returns.

Along with hardware advancements in solar power generation, opportunities are expanding in the world with Internet of Things (IoT).

Thanks to real-time digital knowledge and Big Data analysis, solar power productivity and performance will be more clearly defined in the future, from predictably automated and optimized maintenance to monitoring all the hardware in solar power plant. Since then, the cost and time of power outages will be reduced, while operational performance will be increased. This is an advantage because in this industry, only a broken part will lead to stagnant days, reducing power output.

The rapidly developing solar power market is accompanied by the complexity of plants due to the growing scale and power grid stability challenges. Operators, owners, investors and project developers have been looking for methods to minimize the risks and bring the highest profit.

That’s why the solar energy industry is developing integrated systems and this is the  main approach of GE to the entire grid-connected power plant ecosystem.

Currently, GE is negotiating with customers,  implementing contracts under the “turnkey” method which is optimal for the project, from solar panels to HV substations, including PV panels, inverter, balance system, SCADA controlling and monitoring system, obeying standards of the power grid and substation connection. GE has also worked with local companies to provide a complete EPC general contractor contract for solar projects in Viet Nam. GE also additionally provides a flexible digital service that allows long-term performance assurance.

 Open up new opportunities

Similar to Viet Nam, Dubai of the United Arab Emirates is one of the most efficient solar power development sites, with abundant solar light sources. GE has helped Dubai Electricity and Water Authority to build a giant solar power plant in Dubai desert.

The Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park plant was developed with 3 phases, expected to be completed in 2030. It is the largest project in the region, with a power capacity up to 5,000MW. Phase II of the project uses GE’s technology for a capacity up to 200MW, enough for lighting more than 30,000 households and reducing 250,000 tons of CO2 per year.

However, the ambient temperature in Dubai can be up to 50 degrees Celsius. This is an obstacle for product design to withstand such severe weather condition. With its strengths, GE has researched and released an inverter that effectively works in a high temperature environment.

The 1.5-kV inverter also allows solar power plants to be simpler in design, lower infrastructure requirements than plants using 1-kV technology. Thus, the third-phase solar power plant using advanced inverter of GE is expected to generate power at a price of 2.99cent/kWh, surpassing traditional fuels and becoming the cheapest energy in Dubai.

With advanced and reliable solar technology, GE has helped Dubai to expand solar energy towards a balanced energy structure. GE also commits to bring latest technologies and best solutions to boost Viet Nam’s solar energy market in the coming time.

  • 14/02/2019 03:02