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Energy outlook


Update on global energy trends

Jeff Smidt, Vice President and General Manager, UL Energy, Northbrook, Illinois, USA, November 2010

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Welcome to the first issue of UL Energy’s e-newsletter, Energy Outlook. As the world-wide energy sector becomes more globalized and the distribution of new energy technologies grows, UL Energy is at the forefront of these changes to help manufacturers and authorities ensure the highest level of safety in their markets.

This e-newsletter is a opportunity for us to interact with you, our customers and partners, on current developments in the energy sector, including the Solar, Wind, Oil + Gas, Large Battery and Inverter industries. Another key goal is to provide a compact overview of changes in codes and requirements relevant to the successful introduction of new energy products on a local, regional and global scale.

Your views are an integral part of Energy Outlook! I therefore encourage you to send us your comments on the content of these articles. We are also interested in receiving suggestions for topics we should consider for future issues. Many thanks for taking the time. Enjoy reading!

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Breakthrough for transformerless inverter technology

While the transformerless (non-isolated) inverter has been a popular solution for photovoltaic systems in Europe and Asia, a lack of safety requirements in the U.S. has limited the potential for universal application of this technology. The published UL1741 “Standard for Safety for Inverters, Converters, Controllers and Interconnection System Equipment for Use With Distributed Energy Resources” did not address the specific safety hazards and concerns associated with non-isolated PV inverters under normal and abnormal conditions. For the first time, requirements have now been published to address the specific safety concern of transformerless PV inverters.

Since transformerless inverters by design have no galvanic isolation between DC and AC circuits, U.S. regulatory authorities were concerned that inverter and PV system faults could potentially transmit DC to AC system circuits, such as the public utility grid, and that inverter faults could transmit AC to the PV DC circuits.
The new requirements for transformerless inverters now include ground fault protection requirements that increase system safety, by establishing PV array electrical isolation limits, requiring PV array isolation measurements and complying with limits prior to inverter current export. The new requirements also include more thorough ground fault current limits and measurement requirements, and additionally add fast disconnect response times for inverters to sudden low level changes in ground fault current.

Installers and plant operators also benefit from the multiple advantages of transformerless inverters over their traditional counterparts: lighter weight, easier mounting, quieter operation, attractive price-performance ratio, increased efficiency and a substantial reduction in heat generation.
Timothy Zgonena, Northbrook, IL USA, November 2010

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Upcoming PV conference in Shanghai

The Asian solar market has grown tremendously in the last few years and with it the need for sustainable operations. In response, there is now an Asian conference dedicated to the environmental durability, performance and service life of solar energy materials, components, PV modules and whole PV systems.

Entitled “PV Durability Asia”, the technical conference addresses the needs of module manufacturers and supply chain stakeholders. As PV systems are expected to last up to 20, 30 and even 40 years, appropriate testing of the long-term durability of key components as well as whole PV systems is crucial to product development, quality control and certification.

The conference is to be held 7-8 December 2010 at the Crowne Plaza Century Park Shanghai Hotel. With the participation of industry experts from all around the world, organizers Atlas Material Testing Technology and Underwriters Laboratories look forward to exploring means of viably accelerating the PV testing and certification process.

Please contact for a list of speakers and further conference details.
Phoebe Wang ,Shanghai, October 2010

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Safety standards for wind turbine generator systems (WTGS)

Since electrical components in wind turbines have the highest failure rate, UL develops much needed standards for WTGS with a full focus on electrical safety issues (shock and fire) unique to the wind turbine environment. While different countries, regions and states have adopted their own regulations, UL aims to create globally viable standards which minimize the need for country-specific adaptations.

In May 2009, UL published two outlines for wind energy related safety standards. Meanwhile, in cooperation with the American Wind Energy Association, AHJs and manufacturers, UL has formed a Standards Technical Panel (STP) soon to release three ANSI/UL standards: ANSI/UL 6141 for large WTGS, ANSI/UL 6142 for small and micro WTGS, and ANSI/UL 6171 for inverters and converters.

UL assists manufacturers throughout the world in the fulfillment of safety requirements through consultation, gap analysis, testing and listing of the final products. The UL Mark on a wind turbine is internationally recognized proof of excellence and comprehensive electrical safety.
Tuomo Keinanen, Director, UL Business Development Energy

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New PV testing facility in Japan

Last month, UL Japan opened a new photovoltaic testing and certification facility to better support Japanese companies’ access to global markets, as well as provide performance and safety testing services for PV equipment in Japan.

Currently, the production of PV equipment is receiving a significant boost from the governments of the U.S., Japan, China and Germany, who are all taking proactive steps to develop the PV market. In order for PV systems to become widespread, however, their safety and long-term reliable performance must be guaranteed.

Located in Ise, Mie Prefecture, Japan, the new PV testing facility hosts 14 cutting edge testing chambers on a 1,950 square meter site. The facility is staffed by specialists with expert knowledge in PV testing and equipped with state-of-the-art testing systems like solar simulators, which emit artificial sunlight, impact testers, which test the durability of a device against physical impact, and hail testers.
Saiko Yamazaki, Tokyo, Japan, November 2010

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25 November 2010 | Frankfurt, Germany
Solar conference: Photovoltaics Trends 2011 and Beyond

1 - 2 December 2010 | Las Vegas, NV, USA
PV Power Plants 2010 USA

7 - 8 December | Shanghai, China
Atlas/UL PV Durability Asia Conference

2 - 4 March 2011 | Tokyo, Japan

14 - 18 March 2011 | Brussels, Belgium
European Wind Energy Conference EWEC 2011

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UL University

UL's Knowledge Solutions

UL University offers customized private and public training and seminars. We provide participants with valuable information already useful in the design phase of the product life cycle and imperative for fast and easy worldwide market access.

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UL Verification

Underwriters Laboratories Inc. is not only a global leader in product safety testing and certification but UL‘s involvement in commercial testing, inspection, and audit work is recognized and respected around the world as well.

Today, it is a constant challenge to find cost effective ways to test and inspect products without compromising quality. UL‘s Research & Development (R&D) Testing, Verification Testing, Inspection & Audit Services and our Retailer Services support manufacturing business operations from initial design through prototyping and into final production and enhance retail supply chain quality management operations.

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UL Environment

UL Environment is a new source for independent green claims validation, product certification, advisory services and standards development. We‘re here to help manufacturers, their business customers and consumers alike get clarity on what may or may not be a sustainable product.

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