Inverter manufacturer launches lifecycle servicing program as regulators warn of persistent performance issues

Inverter manufacturer launches lifecycle servicing program as regulators warn of persistent performance issues

Solar and storage inverter manufacturer Tigo has launched an inverter servicing program for C&I installers, which it dubbed an “industry first.”

The Green Glove service will provide support for installers before, during, and after installation, Tigo said. Services can include service scheduling, technical training, and potential site visit requirements.

Tigo customers can expect a no-cost design review prior to installation, on-call support from regional Tigo locations during installation, and a post-installation review and follow-up discussion to answer outstanding questions and gather feedback on the installation experience. Tigo-based commercial and industrial solar systems commissioned prior to March 2024 are eligible for the Green Glove program.

Systems based on non-Tigo Module Level Power Electronics (MLPE) devices may also be eligible for a fee-based service under the Green Glove program.

Tigoi said the program is designed to “deliver quality solar as well as rapid shutdown safety by enhancing the resources available to solar installers.”

“The philosophy behind this program is to strengthen the connective tissue within the solar value chain, bridging the strength Tigo has in designing solar hardware with the strength our installer partners have in deploying solar,” Tigo Energy CMO James JD Dillon said in a statement.

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The announcement comes after regulators have raised a series of red flags regarding the performance of inverter-based resources.

In its analysis of widespread solar PV resource losses in Southwest Utah last year, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, the bulk power system’s safety and reliability regulator, reiterated “the strong need” for IBR performance issues to be addressed. The agency stated that generator operators are “often not addressing performance issues that latently exist within the existing fleet.”

On the morning of April 10, 2023, nine solar PV facilities failed to ride through a normally cleared fault on a 345 kV transmission circuit, resulting in the unexpected loss of 921 MW of generation. This was the first widespread solar loss event to occur in the Western Interconnection outside of California, NERC said.

Despite repeated warnings, NERC said generator owners and inverter manufacturers have failed to mitigate known risks.

NERC’s ongoing Project 2023-02 “Performance of IBRs” effort aims to establish standards for requiring analysis and mitigation of unexpected and unwarranted protection and control operations of IBRs following the identification of a performance issue.

Matt Gabor, the vice president of the developer network for C&I and community solar developer DSD Renewables, called Tigo’s move a “step in the right direction,” noting that labor markets remain strained as a result of the pandemic.

“Putting together some type of certification program for installers to be taught and tested would certainly reduce the number of issues we see down the road,” Gabor said in an email to Renewable Energy World. “It’s not just being trained on the product and connections but also wire management within the array to ensure there’s no unnecessary stress put on those connectors.  Reliable designs, equipment, and installers. 

“You need all three, you can’t just pick two.”

Gabor added that design review should likely be a requirement for projects utilizing Tigo, and other manufacturers’s, equipment.

But, ultimately, training can only go so far.

“If a project is not designed to avoid crosstalk and stay within the limits of the PLC (power line communication) signal, no amount of installer training or support can remedy that,” he added.