By Roy L Hales
One of the World’s largest grid support and solar inverter test labs opened Burnaby BC. Schneider Electric’s MicroGrid Lab was built to support the design and testing of Schneider Electric’s revolutionary SE1 1500V platform. It can test inverters of up to 2MW (6MW total) for compliance with safety and grid interconnection standards under a wide range of environmental conditions while recycling power to conserve energy.
Solar is still a young industry. The average utility scale plant is less than three years old. Yet installations are being made everywhere from the Arctic to the tropics and desert. The International Energy Agency predicts this phenomenal growth rate will continue. Over the next two decades, 40% of the growth in primary energy is expected to come from the clean tech sector.
More than 60% of the energy loss, in PV systems, is related to the inverters and electrical balance of system. The 20,000 sq. ft. MicroGrid was built to test these systems in ways that will identify potential weaknesses before products go into production. Much of the equipment had to be custom designed. It was built to enable unprecedented testing in temperatures ranging from -65 to +85 degrees C, humidity of up to 95% and load of up to 50 kW of live power. Schneider’s British Columbian division is the 9th largest member of the province’s Clean Tech sector, employing 730 people. Schneider Electric is a 178 year old energy company, currently operating in 100 countries around the World. It e,ploys 150,000 people and achieved sales of €24 billion in 2013.
Premier Christy Clark attended the British Columbia lab’s official opening on July 8, 2014. “Schneider Electric’s investments in British Columbia are a vote of confidence in our economy and our future as a clean energy provider and technology leader,” the Premier said. “We are thrilled Premier Christy Clark was able to join us to officially open our new MicroGrid Lab” said Jill Tipping, VP Operations & CFO, Solar Business, Schneider Electric.