Innovative PV inverter design reduces cost, increases efficiency

April 11, 2017 //By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Efficiency and reliability of solar power generation are determined to a large extend by the characteristics of the photovoltaic (PV) inverter. Today, the research in the field of power electronics converters focuses on increasing the power density by using the latest semiconductor technologies and circuit topologies. To counter the steadily rising cost pressure of a globalized PV economy, however, new research approaches are necessary, researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) believe – and prove that this is possible.

The Freiburg (Germany) based institute worked with partners to investigate how a new generation of PV inverters can look under the aspect of cost optimization. Design, cooling and connection technology have been identified as central parameters to attack this problem.

In the project named "PV-Pack", the research was focusing on optimized cooling, connection and installation technology for efficient, fast-switching and highly integrated photovoltaic inverters of the power class 10 to 40 kW. SMA Solar Technology AG, the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Applied Materials Research IFAM, Phoenix Contact GmbH & Co. KG and the Fraunhofer ISE have joined forces to achieve this goal. At the same time, the partners complement each other ideally in the fields of thermally highly conductive sintered materials, connection technology and power electronics. In view of the rapid development of the market needs, they have extended the target for the development of a highly integrated PV inverter to a nominal output of 70 kW.