BFH’s PV Lab and Japanese electronics experts developing new test standard for inverters

01.02.2023 Researchers from the Laboratory for Photovoltaic Systems at Bern University of Applied Sciences BFH are collaborating with a group of Japanese electronics experts in an international project to develop a test standard for inverters. A delegation from Japan visited the Laboratory in Burgdorf.

Nine Japanese electronics experts from industry and science paid a visit to the PV Lab at Bern University of Applied Sciences in January 2023. Over two days, the researchers conducted tests on inverters together. The reason for the visit was the collaboration between the Japanese and the researchers at the PV Lab on the development of the first international test standard for the grid connection of PV inverters.

Uniform international standards are needed

The inverter is the heart of a PV system. It converts the direct current generated by the solar panels into grid-compliant alternating current. If a fault occurs in the power grid, the inverter must perform correctly, by supporting the grid with reactive power, for example, or by switching itself off. This is becoming increasingly important due to the rising number of PV systems being connected to the grid worldwide. It used to be up to the countries or even the electricity grid operators themselves to define the rules that inverters should follow. However, with inverters now being manufactured, sold and installed all over the world, there is a need for uniform international standards. In order to verify that an inverter performs in accordance with the requirements, it must be tested to a standardised procedure. The new test standard is being developed with a view to regulating this procedure in future. However, there’s more to the collaboration between Japan and Switzerland than just working out the technical aspects of the new standard: “Through our contact with Bern University of Applied Sciences, we can also foster greater international collaboration between research, industry and governments,” says Yasutoshi Yoshioka, Manager of the European Research & Technical Center at Fuji Electric Europe GmbH.

Collaboration to be ongoing

How will decentralised generators (in particular photovoltaic systems) need to perform in future in order for them to be connected to the power grid in sufficient quantities? This is also being investigated by researchers at the PV Lab as part of the SWEET EDGE project. SWEET EDGE’s main goal is to model energy systems of the future for the cities, the Swiss Plateau and the alpine regions, to identify the challenges involved and to respond to them with recommended courses of action as far as possible. The collaboration with the experts from Japan is valuable in this respect too: “The Japanese and Swiss power grids face similar challenges,” says Christof Bucher, Head of the PV Lab. “Thanks to the exchange, which we will continue to pursue in future, we are able to seek solutions more efficiently.”

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