Built by First Solar, Inc., Agua Caliente will generate enough clean solar energy to serve the needs of about 100,000 average homes per year when fully operational. In addition to First Solar’s advanced thin film PV modules, the 2,400-acre plant will feature more than 400 SMA Sunny Central 720CP inverters. The project already has been named Solar Project of the Year by Renewable Energy World and PV Project of the Year by Solar Power Generation USA.
“The challenging environmental conditions and high quality expectations of our partners made the Sunny Central 720CP an ideal choice for this groundbreaking solar project,” said Jurgen Krehnke, president and general manager of SMA America. “We are excited to witness the commissioning and start of clean power production.”
Sunny Central CP inverters are specially designed for use in large, open-field PV power plants such as Agua Caliente. With peak efficiencies more than 98 percent, they are among the most efficient central inverters on the market.
The Sunny Central CP series of inverters, which won the Intersolar Award 2010 in the photovoltaics category, is well-suited for the Arizona sun thanks to SMA’s OptiCool™ temperature management solution, which allows it to operate at full nominal power with ambient temperatures up to 50 C.
In continuous operation, the Sunny Central 720CP can feed 792 kVA to the grid at ambient temperatures of up to 25 C — 110 percent rated nominal power, resulting in increased power production.
With powerful grid management functions, operators are also perfectly prepared for today’s utility requirements, as well as those still to come.
NRG Energy acquired Agua Caliente in August 2011. First Solar will continue to build, operate and maintain the project. Power generated by the installation will be sold to the Pacific Gas and Electric Company.
This isn’t the first time groundbreaking projects have featured SMA technology at sites with challenging climates. SMA inverters have been used in desert installations in Gila Bend, Ariz., as well as Santa Teresa and Cimarron, N.M. They are also present at the current world’s largest PV installation in Sarnia, Ontario, where temperatures regularly present the opposite challenge.
SMA Solar Technology AG is the global market leader for solar inverters. The SMA Group generated sales of €1.9 billion in 2010. It is headquartered in Niestetal, near Kassel, Germany, and is represented in 19 countries on four different continents. The Group employs a staff of over 5,300 worldwide, plus a number of temporary employees which varies on a seasonal basis. The multi award-winning product range covers solar inverters for roof systems, major solar projects and off-grid systems, enabling SMA to provide a technically optimized inverter solution for all size categories and system types. Its range of services is complemented by a worldwide service network. The highly flexible manufacturing plants for solar inverters in Germany and North America have a capacity of approximately 11.5 GW a year. The SMA Group also operates a manufacturing plant for electromagnetic core components in Poland. Since 2008, SMA has been listed on the Prime Standard of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange and also in the TecDAX index. In recent years, SMA has received numerous awards for its excellence as an employer and achieved first place in 2011 in the federal “Great Place to Work” competition. www.SMA-America.com
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SMA America—a subsidiary of SMA Solar Technology AG, headquartered in Germany—provides North America with the world’s finest inverter, control and monitoring products for renewable energy sources, primarily solar.