Solar PV installations are growing rapidly and market previsions make it the key renewable source in the electrical generation mix. In order to follow this trend and fulfill expectations, there is the need of continuing reducing its costs. Such cost reduction may be achieved by different means as reducing the investment cost (in other words making components cheaper), increasing the system global efficiency, reducing the operation and maintenance actions, among others.
Focusing on operation and maintenance, one of the more expensive and critical actions is the replacement or reparation of components. Since it requires personnel-time, the required material and availability; in addition, certain failures lead to energy production losses which can be translated as burning money.
In this regard, one of the key components is the power inverter, since it is the element responsible to convert the DC power generated by the module or modules (depending on the size of the converter) to AC which is conventionally used. This means that the efficiency of this element is critical because it will cope with whole system generation. In addition, such component is one of the elements on the PV system that presents a relevant failure rate.
Just to make a simple example, if the PV power plant has a generation of 1000 kW (modules rated) and the efficiency of the converter is 95% (an averaged acceptable value), the real delivered power is just 950kW, which translated to a loss of 50 kW (which can be seen as about 5-10 households). So, if we are capable of improving that 95% (even just 1% up) we can win a lot. In the same way, if the converter is a central inverter (the most used configuration), and there is a failure on the converter, we will loose the whole production. So, to provide options to avoid such total loss (in an affordable way) is of relevance.
Here is where SUPERPV innovations make a difference. Within the project, novel power electronics which provide increased efficiency and enhanced reliability are being designed, constructed and validated in field. These are based on advanced materials (as GaN or SiC) and include innovative configurations (as fault-tolerant).
SUPERPV fostering PV converter innovations!