Highest-Efficiency Solar Array Configurations
ISU’s utility-scale PV solar parks are constructed using dual-axis, autonomous sun-tracking arrays that result in 35% more electrical output than standard ground-mounted systems. The solar panels in ISU solar parks automatically track the sun throughout the day and optimize the solar panels’ power output by maintaining the panels’ perpendicular orientation to the Sun.
Forty-two solar panels are mounted on each array. The electricity generated by the solar panels flows from the arrays, to internal inverters, to external inverters, to step-up transformers at the substation, and then to the national grid for distribution. ISU’s PV solar parks range in size from 5MW to 200MW, with the sizes of the parks determined by existing electrical grid systems limitations. A 5MW solar park consists of 342 arrays and requires 20 acres of land, and a 200MW solar park consists of 13,680 arrays and requires 800 acres of land. Typically, 5MW solar parks are developed in remote areas to power micro-grid and off-grid systems, and larger solar parks are developed near major cities.
Back-Up Power via Geographically-distributed and Synchronized Solar Farms
To provide consistent electricity to national grids, ISU has devised a first-of-its-kind solar energy production balancing and stabilization approach. ISU works with governments to develop, operate, and maintain geographically-distributed solar parks that are strategically located in order to maximize the sun’s power.
This strategic configuration provides for a more stable power delivery output during the day because while some solar parks may be covered with clouds, other solar parks will be fully operational and will compensate for the solar parks that are temporarily generating less power. If weather conditions or other factors (including maintenance) affect one park, the other parks will remain operational. What’s more, each solar park in a synchronized system stores approximately one-third of its energy so that it can be used as backup power to off-set the effects of intermittent solar radiation at the various parks.
Reserve Power Generation via Tri-Fuel Engines
ISU also works with governments to provide reserve power at solar parks by developing tri-fuel (TF) power plants that use state-of-the-art modular engines. If at any time a solar park’s power output decreases below its rated output, the TF plant will immediately generate the power difference, up to 100MW with full ramp-up times of under 7 seconds. The TF plants can operate independently and can generate electricity even when the solar parks are not producing any power.
Modular Implementation and Steady Integration to Power Grid
ISU PV solar parks and TF plants are developed and brought online in modular pieces, which enables 5 MW at a time to be integrated into the power girds. This modular approach is logistically easier and poses less risk to the grid than integrating a larger amount at one time. The modular design also prevents revenue and electricity interruptions due to maintenance, weather conditions, or other factors. For similar reasons, the modular design also allows for power output to be generated during construction of solar parks, instead of only when entire parks are operational.