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SOLAR PV SYSTEM AND POWER FACTOR



The main reason industries move to solar is the rising grid prices. Solar power has reached grid parity and in some cases cheaper compared to conventional EB power. However installing solar PV plants in industries may not bring optimal savings because of reasons like low power factor (PF). This is because solar PV system will offset the real power drawn from the grid and not the reactive component. The extra cost in utility is due to penalties for maintaining a low power factor.


To understand this,let's assume the industrial client consumes 50 kVA power constantly with a power factor of 0.9. The real power is 90 kW and reactive power is around 44 kVAr. Now after installation of a solar plant which produces 50 kW AC power. The new consumption will be 40 kW real power and the reactive power remains constant. However the power factor will change to 0.68. This is because the client generally has a constant value capacitor bank which will not adjust to varying loads.


A simple solution to this issue is use an automatic capacitor bank of suitable size to always maintain the power factor at the desired value. Another solution is to program the grid tied inverters to provide required reactive power as per need. If these measures are not taken care prior to installation of a solar PV plant, the benefits due to the solar PV plant will not be substantial.

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