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XXX  IEC:201X –1– 82/639/NP

1 Design guidelines and recommandations


2 for photovoltaic power plants
3
4

5 1 Scope and purpose

6 This technical specification (TS) sets out general guidelines and recommendations for the
7 design and installation of photovoltaic (PV) power plants. A PV power plant is defined as a
8 grid-connected, ground mounted system of at least 1 MW, comprising multiple sub-arrays and
9 interconnected directly to a utility’s medium voltage or high voltage grid. Technical areas
10 addressed are those that largely distinguish PV power plants from smaller, more conventional
11 installations, including ground mounted array configurations, cable routing methods, cable
12 selection, overcurrent protection strategies, equipotential bonding over large geographical
13 areas, inverter and medium voltage transformer sizing and siting, medium voltage collection
14 systems, grid interconnection, and auxiliary and communication services. Safety requirements
15 are largely dependent on existing referenced IEC standards, and in general existing
16 standards are referenced wherever possible for uniformity. Emphasis is placed on systems
17 employing large scale central inverters, but sections are also applicable to systems employing
18 AC modules, string level inverters or DC/DC converters. Large rooftop mounted systems are
19 not included in the scope of this document because of the unique design considerations that
20 are common to rooftop systems in general, and which are being addressed in a separate
21 standard.

22 This TS addresses PV system design and installation topics that are essential to power plant
23 applications but largely absent from existing PV system and related standards. Power plants
24 are a significant and growing component of the PV market, yet design methodologies range
25 considerably, partly due to the fact that systems are not accessible to the public or non-
26 qualified personnel. Overall guidelines are still needed to ensure safe, reliable, and productive
27 systems.

28 2 Normative References

29 The following referenced documents are indispensable for the application of this document.
30 For dated references, only the edition cited applies. For undated references, the latest edition
31 of the referenced document (including any amendments) applies. Informational (i.e.
32 dispensable) references are included in the bibliography.

33 IEC 60287 (all parts), Electric cables – Calculation of the current rating

34 IEC 60364 (all parts), Low-voltage electrical installations

35 IEC 60364-4-41, Low-voltage electrical installations – Part 4-41: Protection for safety –
36 Protection against electric shock

37 FOR Enclosures, substation buildings, O&M buildings, etc:

38 IEC 60364-5-53 Electrical installations of buildings - Part 5-53: Selection and erection of
39 electrical equipment - Isolation, switching and control

40 IEC 60364-5-54, Electrical installations of buildings – Part 5-54: Selection and erection of
41 electrical equipment – Earthing arrangements, protective conductors and protective bonding
42 conductors

43 IEC 60449, Voltage bands for electrical installations of buildings

44 IEC 60529, Degrees of protection provided by enclosures (IP Code)


XXX  IEC:201X –2– 82/639/NP

45 IEC 61140, Protection against electric shock – Common aspects for installation and
46 equipment

47 IEC 61201, Use of conventional touch voltage limits - Application guide

48 IEC 61215, Crystalline silicon terrestrial photovoltaic (PV) modules


 De s ig n q u a li fication and
49 type approval

50 IEC 61643-12, Low voltage surge protective devices


 P a rt 1 2 : S u rg e p ro te c tive d e vic e s
51 connected to low voltage power distribution systems
 S e le c tio n a n d a p p lic a tio n p rin c ip le s

52 IEC 61646, Thin


film te rre s tria l p h o to vo lta ic (P V) modules  De s ig n q u a lific a tio n a n d typ e
53 approval

54 EN 61730-1, Photovoltaic module safety qualification- Requirements for construction

55 EN 61730-2, Photovoltaic module safety qualification- Requirements for testing

56 IEC 61730-1, Photovoltaic module safety qualification- Requirements for construction

57 IEC 61730-2, Photovoltaic module safety qualification- Requirements for testing

58 IEC 61836, Solar photovoltaic energy systems - Terms, definitions and symbols

59 IEC 62109-1 Safety of power conversion equipment for use in photovoltaic power
60 systems -Part 1: General requirements.

61 IEC 62109-2 Safety of power conversion equipment for use in photovoltaic power
62 systems -Part 2: Particular requirements for inverters.

63 IEC 62446, Grid connected PV systems - Minimum requirements for system documentation,
64 commissioning tests, and inspection requirements

65 IEC 61727, Photovoltaic (PV) systems - Characteristics of the utility interface

66 IEC 62548 - Installation and Safety Requirements for Photovoltaic (PV) Generators.

67 IEC 62446 Grid connected photovoltaic systems - Minimum requirements for system
68 documentation, commissioning tests and inspection

69 IEC 62116 Test procedure of islanding prevention measures for utility-interconnected


70 photovoltaic inverters

71 IEC 62093 Balance-of-system components for photovoltaic systems -- Design qualification


72 natural environments

73 IEC 61829 Crystalline silicon photovoltaic (PV) array - On-site measurement of I-V
74 characteristics (not on www.iec.ch list)

75 IEC 61683 Photovoltaic systems - Power conditioners - Procedure for measuring efficiency

76 IEC 61724 Photovoltaic system performance monitoring - Guidelines for measurement, data
77 exchange and analysis

78 Publications issued by TC 8
XXX  IEC:201X –3– 82/639/NP

79 IEC 60038 (2009-06) Ed. 7.0, IEC standard voltages

80 IEC 60059 (1999-06), IEC standard current ratings

81 IEC/PAS 62559 (2008-01) Ed. 1.0, IntelliGrid methodology for developing requirements for
82 energy systems ???

83 IEC 60050-614 Ed. 1.0 B, International Electrotechnical Vocabulary - IEC 60050(614)


84 Generation, transmission and distribution of electricity - Operation

85 IEC 62511 TR Ed. 1.0 E, A white paper - Power system reliability in a deregulated electricity
86 market environment

87 PNW 8-1275 Ed. 1. Guidelines on dispersed generation - Impact of renewable energy sources
88 on grid planning and operation

89 PNW 8-1284 Ed. 1.0, Power Quality of Energy Supply - Characterization of power quality from
90 the point of view of the electrical energy suppliers

91 PNW 8-1285 Ed. 1.0, Standard calculation methods of performance indexes for energy
92 supply.

93 3 Terms and definitions

94 4 Ground-mounted PV array configurations

95 4.1 General

96 PV power plant designs can be categorized by the PV array configurations and the inverter
97 configurations employed.

98 4.2 Fixed tilt arrays

99 Fixed tilt arrays use structures that orient PV modules at an azimuth and tilt angle that is fixed
100 year round. Arrays are fixed typically at the site latitude angle +/- 15 degrees to optimize
101 annual generation, but may be tilted at other angles to achieve specific performance
102 objectives. Pros and cons....

103 4.3 Adjustable tilt arrays

104 Adjustable tilt arrays are essentially fixed tilt arrays that can be manually adjusted once or
105 more per year. The most typical adjustable tilt array uses a higher angle tilt setting for winter
106 months and a lower angle tilt setting for summer months. This is not often found in existing
107 PV power plants due to the time and labor associated with making the adjustments twice a
108 year. Pros and cons....

109 4.4 Single axis tracking arrays

110 Single axis tracking arrays employ structures rotate PV modules along a single axis to follow
111 the sun’s path. Most common for power plants is the N-S axis tracker, which rotates the
112 modules from east to west throughout the course of a day. More..... Pros and cons
XXX  IEC:201X –4– 82/639/NP

113 4.5 Azimuth tracking arrays

114 4.6 Dual-axis tracking arrays

115 4.7 Central inverter configurations

116 Plants designed with large centralized inverters are most common, particularly with multi-
117 megawatt sized systems. A common centralized inverter design approach includes a group of
118 inverters totalling 500 kW to 2 MW installed together in a housing container or on an
119 equipment pad along with a medium voltage transformer. The transformer steps the AC
120 voltage up to a standard medium voltage level, such as 20 kV. The figure below shows an
121 example 1 MW centralized inverter layout using a N-S single axis tracker. The inverters are
122 centralized within the array to minimize the total lengths of DC cable. The MV AC output of
123 the container connects to a substation north of the array.

124

125 4.8 String or module inverter configurations

126 Similar description and example figure.

127 4.9 PV and Concentrator

128 Classification of systems using standard flat panel PV versus those using concentrating PV,
129 both low and high concentration.
XXX  IEC:201X –5– 82/639/NP

130 5 Module wiring

131 5.1 Sizing of series strings

132 For PV plants using string or centralized inverters, the process for determining the
133 appropriate number of modules to be connected in a series string is mostly similar to that of
134 standard commercial or rooftop PV systems. However, a power plant design may warrant a
135 greater evaluation of variables to optimize the string lengths for electrical and cost efficiency.

136 5.1.1 Considerations due to temperature

137 Determining the design low and design high temperature (statistical data at site).

138 5.1.2 Considerations due to inverter voltage window

139 Determine the minimum recommended string voltage at the high design temperature, given
140 the inverter minimum MPPT voltage, voltage drop on the conductors, mismatch, voltage
141 degradation over time, etc.

142 Determine the maximum recommended string voltage at the low design temperature, given
143 the inverter maximum OC voltage rating, the inverter’s high voltage withstand, site specific
144 weather factors, and string voltage calculations that incorporate impact of irradiance on cell
145 temperatures.

146 5.1.3 Considerations due to inverter efficiency

147 Determine the efficiency trade off of using the highest possible string voltages to minimize
148 power loss in the DC conductors and using lower string voltages to maximize the inverter
149 efficiencies.

150 5.2 Sizing of string conductors

151 Determine the string conductor size (ampacity) given maximum short circuit currents,
152 overcurrent protection ratings, electrical efficiency, and cost. Criteria may differ from plant to
153 plant. For examples, some based on maximum delivered efficiency at full power, other based
154 on levelized cost of energy over the life of the plant.

155 5.3 Module wiring methods

156 5.3.1 Cable ratings

157 List recommendations for cable voltage and insulation ratings given various designs.

158 5.3.2 Cable protection from physical damage

159 Recommendations and guidelines for exposed module to module wiring to protect from
160 physical damage.

161 5.3.3 Cable securement

162 Recommendations and guidelines for securing the cables to limit physical damage, stress on
163 connectors, stress on junction boxes, stress from wind vibration.

164 5.3.4 Cable routing and transitions

165 Define common methods, guidelines for routing cables in plants, including the transition of
166 cable from moving arrays (tracker assemblies) to fixed raceways.
XXX  IEC:201X –6– 82/639/NP

167 5.4 String conductor overcurrent protection

168 5.4.1 General

169 Define guidelines for multi-criteria approach to overcurrent protection of module strings.

170 5.4.2 String conductor fault scenarios

171 Define a matrix of fault scenarios on strings, including line to line, ground faults, faults to
172 other circuits.

173 5.4.3 Protection of components

174 Determine module and component protection needs given maximum reverse current ratings,
175 and evaluation of fault scenarios. Thin-film based systems will differ from standard crystalline
176 based systems.

177 5.4.4 Protection against fire

178 Define guidelines for evaluating overcurrent protection effectiveness in protecting against fire,
179 given failure mode of modules, junction boxes, connectors, etc.

180 5.4.5 Fuse selection

181 Define recommended or required fuse types and ratings,

182 5.4.6 Circuit breaker selection

183 Define guidelines and considerations for use of circuit breakers for string protection.

184 6 PV sub-array design

185 6.1 Arrangement of sub-array junction boxes

186 This section focuses on decision making for size, string count, and arrangement of sub-array
187 junction boxes with the criteria of plant design cost-efficiency.

188 6.1.1 Considerations due to cable electrical losses

189 Define considerations and methods for calculating losses and cable costs for different sub-
190 array junction box arrangements.

191 6.1.2 Considerations due to lightning and over-voltage protection

192 Identify considerations for sizing boxes based on cable distances, effectiveness of over-
193 voltage protection, and level of lightning activity at a specific location.

194 6.1.3 Considerations due to operation and maintenance

195 Identify considerations of sub-array junction box arrangements, locations, and isolation with
196 respect to long term operation and maintenance procedures, requirements of personnel.

197 6.2 Sub-array wiring methods

198 6.2.1 Cable ratings

199 List recommendations for cable voltage and insulation ratings given various designs.
XXX  IEC:201X –7– 82/639/NP

200 6.2.2 Cable routing and transitions

201 Define common methods, guidelines for routing sub-array cables in plants.

202 6.2.2.1 Use of cable trays

203 Define recommendations for use and selection of cable trays, specific to PV plant
204 applications, including thermal issues, physical support, use of tray covers, perforated trays,
205 mixed use cable, etc.

206 6.2.2.2 Use of ducts in trenches

207 Define recommendations for use and selection of underground ducts or conduit, specific to PV
208 plant applications.

209 6.2.2.3 Use of direct burial cable

210 Define recommendations for use of direct buried underground cable, specific to PV plant
211 applications, including laying methods, separation of AC and DC circuits, MV circuits, and
212 communication circuits.

213 6.2.2.4 Use of copper conductors

214 Provide discussion of selection of copper conductor for main DC circuits.

215 6.2.2.5 Use of aluminium conductors

216 Provide discussion of selection of aluminium conductor for main PV DC circuits, with focus on
217 guidelines for their proper sizing and safe installation. Aluminium conductors have greater
218 Issues associated with expansion and contraction if exposed in to sunlight thermal-cycling
219 then copper conductors, and therefore greater risk of terminal stress and weakening
220 connections. This section will make recommendations for addressing these issues.

221 6.3 Sub-array conductor sizing

222 This section will have discussions similar to those described for string conductors in the
223 sections above.

224 6.3.1 Conductor ratings for fault protection

225 Similar to discussions in Section 5.4

226 6.3.2 Conductor ratings for voltage-drop and losses

227 Similar to discussions in Section 5.4

228 6.4 Sub-array conductor overcurrent protection

229 Similar to discussions in Section 5.4

230 6.4.1 Protection of components

231 Similar to discussions in Section 5.4

232 6.4.2 Protection against fire

233 Similar to discussions in Section 5.4


XXX  IEC:201X –8– 82/639/NP

234 6.4.3 Fuse selection

235 Similar to discussions in Section 5.4

236 6.4.4 Circuit breaker selection

237 Similar to discussions in Section 5.4

238 6.5 Sub-array junction boxes

239 6.5.1 Component electrical rating

240 Define guidelines for specifying the proper component electrical ratings from PV and circuit
241 information.

242 6.5.2 Component environmental ratings

243 Define guidelines for specifying the proper component environmental ratings for a specific
244 installation type, or adequately protecting the enclosure to meet its rating.

245 6.5.3 Location and mounting methods

246 Define typical approaches and recommendations for box mounting given different location
247 scenarios.

248 6.5.4 Clearance requirements

249 Identify references to clearance requirements (for control boxes, e.g.) but also describe
250 practical clearance issues found in PV plant applications.

251 6.6 Sub-array disconnecting means

252 Provide a general discussion of sub-array disconnecting approaches, based on criteria in


253 subsections below.

254 6.6.1 Locations of disconnects

255 6.6.1.1 Considerations for safety

256 6.6.1.2 Considerations for fire protection

257 6.6.1.3 Considerations for operation and maintenance

258 6.6.2 Disconnect electrical ratings

259 6.6.3 Disconnect environmental ratings

260 7 Central inverter interface design

261 7.1 Collection of PV array circuits

262 Describe typical approaches and design guidelines for collecting sub-array circuits at central
263 inverter location.

264 7.2 Overcurrent protection of PV array circuits

265 Describe methods and cost-design trade-offs of different overcurrent protection methods at
266 inverters.
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267 7.3 Isolation of PV array circuits

268 Describe methods and cost-design trade-offs of different DC circuit isolation methods at
269 inverters.

270 7.4 Inverter container configurations

271 Show examples of inverter container configurations. Define classifications (such as building
272 vs, container), which if classified for occupation has different requirements for clearance,
273 exits, etc. Identify references for the various requirements.

274 7.5 Inverter equipment pad configurations

275 Show examples of inverter equipment pad configurations. Identify guidelines and
276 recommendations for protection of equipment, use of shade structures, fencing, etc.

277 8 PV array earthing system

278 8.1 General

279 The sections below will provide guidelines and specifications for the different aspects of
280 earthing design, specific to PV plant applications.

281 8.2 Considerations for safety

282 8.2.1 Access to components by public and unqualified personnel

283 8.2.2 Access to components by qualified personnel only

284 8.3 Considerations for fire protection

285 8.3.1 Earth-fault protection

286 8.3.2 Protection against arcing currents

287 8.3.3 Use of ungrounded DC circuits

288 8.3.4 Use of high-ohmic grounded DC circuits

289 8.3.5 Use of grounded DC circuits

290 8.4 Lightning protection

291 8.4.1 General levels of protection

292 The sections in 8.4 will describe lightning protection equipment methods commonly employed
293 in PV plants, including in locations with high activity. It will also discuss issues to address
294 and lessons learned.

295 8.4.2 Protection of modules and sub-arrays

296 8.4.3 Protection of junction boxes

297 8.4.4 Protection of inverter equipment containers and pads

298
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299 8.5 Equipotential bonding of array fields and structures

300 8.5.1 Objectives

301 The sections in 8.5 will describe equipotential bonding design methods for reducing the risk
302 and impact of nearby lightning strikes. Example layout diagrams to be included.

303 8.5.2 Considerations for redundancy

304 8.5.3 Considerations for effectiveness and economy

305 9 Medium voltage collection system design

306 9.1 Selection of collection system voltage

307 Define guidelines and recommendations for selecting collection system voltages based on
308 plant power ratings, inverter pad sizes and distances.

309 9.2 Collection system configurations

310 9.2.1 Radial systems

311 Discuss low cost collection system designs using radial systems, pros and cons.

312 9.2.2 Open-loop systems

313 Discuss additional benefits and costs of designing open-loop collection systems.

314 9.2.3 Closed-loop systems

315 Discuss additional benefits and costs of designing closed-loop collection systems, including
316 the equipment choices.

317 9.3 Medium voltage transformers

318 9.3.1 Location

319 Section 9.3 to include guidelines and specifications for oil-filled and dry-type transformers, as
320 well as specialized transformers commonly used when connecting multiple inverters.
321 References to applicable IEC transformer standards.

322 9.3.2 Transformer types

323 9.3.3 Installation

324 9.3.4 Electrical ratings

325 9.3.5 Protection

326

327 9.4 Medium voltage switchgear

328 9.4.1 Design criteria

329 Section 9.4 will include guidelines for selection of different MV switchgear design approaches,
330 for equipment at the inverter pads or at centralized collector stations (substations). Define
331 specifications specific to PV system applications. Call out references to applicable IEC
332 switchgear standards.

333
XXX  IEC:201X – 11 – 82/639/NP

334 9.4.2 Electrical ratings

335 9.4.3 Minimum protection requirements

336 9.4.4 Minimum disconnect requirements

337 9.5 Medium voltage cable

338 9.5.1 Cable rating

339 Section 9.5 will include guidelines for selection of MV cable for conditions of use, highlighting
340 PV system specific considerations. Call out references to applicable IEC cabling standards.

341 9.5.2 Sizing considerations

342 9.5.3 Underground systems

343 9.5.3.1 Trench configurations

344 9.5.3.2 Cable in ducts

345 9.5.3.3 Direct burial

346 9.5.3.4 Routing with DC, LV AC, and communication circuits

347 9.5.4 Overhead systems

348 9.5.4.1 Overhead equipment routing

349 9.5.4.2 Clearance from arrays

350 Discuss overhead line clearance issues specific to PV systems.

351 9.5.4.3 Shading considerations

352 Identify shading impact of overhead lines and utility poles on nearby arrays. Provide
353 guidelines and recommendations for minimizing impact.

354 9.6 Utility interface

355 Discuss standard utility interconnection issues – but focus on considerations specific to PV
356 plants – such as intermittency and use of inverters as mitigation for protection and control
357 requirements.

358 9.6.1 Considerations for protective relaying at point of connection

359 9.6.2 Considerations for relay coordination

360 9.6.3 Considerations for generator control requirements

361 9.6.3.1 Control of real power

362 9.6.3.2 Control of reactive power

363 9.6.3.3 Control of voltage

364 10 Auxiliary power systems

365 10.1.1 General

366 Provide design guidelines and recommendations for design of auxiliary power systems given
367 load requirements. The design typically involves a cost trade-off analysis of providing a
368 separate system – sometimes metered separately from the PV production, or tapping off of
XXX  IEC:201X – 12 – 82/639/NP

369 the PV power output circuits to supply loads locally at pads. Energy consumption is typically
370 low throughout the field unless significant inverter container cooling is required.

371 10.1.2 Considerations for PV field AC electrical loads

372 10.1.3 Considerations for inverter/equipment pad electrical loads

373 10.1.4 Auxiliary power service sizing

374 10.1.5 Protection of circuits

375 10.1.6 Segregation of DC, LV AC, and MV AC circuits

376

377 11 Communications systems

378 11.1.1 General design considerations and examples

379 11.1.2 Routing with DC, LV AC and MV AC circuits

380 12 Acceptance – Inspection/Commissioning

381 13 Operation and Maintenance

382 14 Bibliography

383 IEC 60050-151:2001, International Electrotechnical Vocabulary – Part 151: Electrical and
384 magnetic devices

385 IEC 60050-195:1998, International Electrotechnical Vocabulary – Part 195: Earthing and
386 protection against electric shock

387 IEC 60050-442:1998, International Electrotechnical Vocabulary – Part 442: Electrical


388 accessories

389 IEC 60050-461:1984, International Electro-technical Vocabulary – Part 461: Electric cables

390 IEC 60050-826:2004, International Electrotechnical Vocabulary – Part 826: Electrical


391 installations

392 IEC 60364-5-53, Electrical installations of buildings –Selection and erection of electrical
393 equipment – Isolation, switching and control

394 IEC 60364-7-712:2002, Electrical installations of buildings – Part 7-712: Requirements for
395 special installations or locations – Solar photovoltaic (PV) power supply systems

396 IEC 60904-2, Photovoltaic devices − Part 2: Requirements for reference solar cells

397 IEC 60904-3, Photovoltaic devices − Part 3: Measurement principles for terrestrial
398 photovoltaic (PV) solar devices with reference spectral irradiance data

399 IEC 61277, Terrestrial photovoltaic (PV) power generating systems – General and guide
XXX  IEC:201X – 13 – 82/639/NP

400 IEC 61829, Crystalline silicon photovoltaic (PV) array − On-site measurement of I-V
401 characteristics

402 IEC 61836, Solar photovoltaic energy systems – Terms and symbols 1)

403 IEC 62246-2, Reed contact units – Part 2: Heavy-duty reed switches 2)

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1) Second edition, in preparation.

2) To be published.