The importance of a grid study as part of development works in solar PV projects

  • Ricardo Sampson, General Manager: Engineering & New Business at BASE Renewables answers a few questions on why it is important to do a grid study as part of development works in utility scale solar PV projects. 

What is a grid study? 

A grid study is an analytical framework used to understand and evaluate the Power system & Renewable Power Plant (RPP) at a particular point of connection. It simulates the operation of the Power system and RPP under different scenarios to identify reliability constraints.

Why is a grid study important for any utility scale solar project? 

It allows the designers to verify if their designs meet critical parameters laid out in the South African Grid code. This grid study and RPP model can also be used in Network development studies, Fault and incident investigations and help with network operation. Any utility scale plant above the 1MW mark needs to be fully compliant according to the category they fall in, and a grid study is one of the requirements. 

When must the grid study be done?

A Grid study should be done at RPP design stage and after any Major Modification to understand the capability and behaviour of the RPP once connected to the Grid.

What is the unique advantage of SMA inverters in grid tied projects? 

SMA inverters meet all the requirements of the South African Grid code version 3,1 which is currently enforced. Their utility scale inverters utilise/communicate with their inhouse Power plant controller(PPC) and their new Generation Power Plant Manager(PPM) which caters fully to all elements of the South African grid code. Base Renewables has worked on numerous REIPPP projects that utilise the SMA PPC and all plants have passed the 6 yearly Grid code compliance tests on their first attempt. We are currently working with Private Plants utilising the new generation PPM and all preliminary testing is going excellent. SMA have a proven track record with complying to Grid codes internationally and their inverters are proven to withstand the tough South African environment as well the challenging network conditions that the South African Power system is facing.

Thank you for your time Ricardo,

Ricardo can be contacted: ricardo.sampson@basere.co.za

SMA contact person is Daniel: Daniel.Lambrechts@sma-solar.com

Author: Bryan Groenendaal

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