SMA Repowering Brings Utility PV Plant Impacted by Hurricane Maria Back in Business

The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season was the costliest and deadliest on record. Hurricane María, a category five storm, was especially catastrophic for the northeastern region of the Caribbean. As the eye passed south of the island, the hurricane severely affected St. Croix USVI, bringing heavy rainfall, flooding and hurricane-force winds.

In the aftermath of the hurricane, residents struggled with destroyed structures as well as a lack of telecommunication and power. They were facing a hard reality and difficult rebuilding process. Fortunately, island inhabitants could count on partners like BMR Energy, a company that is committed to bringing down the cost of energy in Latin America and the Caribbean.

When BMR learned about a utility PV plant impacted by the storm, they decided to acquire the facility, invest in it, and bring it back in business to serve the residents of St. Croix as soon as possible. The strong winds and heavy rain partially destroyed the roof of the structure which contained the indoor inverters. The damage was serious, due to the hurricane’s heavy winds and precipitation. Only two out of nine inverters were working and even these were not running at full capability.

For this time-sensitive task, BMR collaborated with the experts at SMA Repowering who were ready for the challenge.

After a thorough inspection of the area, BMR’s engineering consultant and SMA experts worked together to develop an innovative solution. Despite some challenges with the transportation of equipment to this remote US territory, SMA was able to replace the old inverters with brand-new Sunny Central inverters for maximum power density and integration.

“SMA was able to fulfill all of our high priority requirements to complete the restoration of this PV system: availability of the inverters needed, flexibility in configuration, and the ability to reuse existing equipment,” said BMR President and CEO Bruce Levy.

The SMA Repowering team met the specific needs of this PV plant by including new customized components. For example, SMA adapted the parameters of some inverters to be able to work with 600 volts DC instead of 1000 volts DC. SMA also delivered an external auxiliary power supply for the inverter controls. Both tasks required a UL field certification that SMA also managed successfully.

After its commissioning in November 2018, the 5MW DC system is supplying local GridCo WAPA and its clients with an estimated 8,000MWh.

The SMA Repowering packages include state-of-the-art hardware and software along with enhanced servicing and maintenance programs. Visit our website to learn more about SMA Repowering solutions.

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