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PV cell string optimizer boosts solar panel output

PV cell string optimizer boosts solar panel output

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By Rich Pell



The cell-string optimizers are highly integrated DC/DC converters that replace the bypass diode and perform maximum power point tracking (MPPT) deep inside the PV module.

By replacing each diode with a MPPT device, the on-off response to performance mismatch is eliminated; every cell-string contributes maximum power without interfering with the power production capability of others. This enhanced degree of flexibility leads to increased energy production; eliminating collateral performance loss due to module mismatch, degradation, soiling, localized shading, and row shading loss mechanisms.

The illustration shows the principle; when panel segments are linked by bypass diodes, partial shading or a section takes the output of that group of cells below the point at which the entire section contributes to the total. Using DC/DC converters allows the shaded panel still to feed power to the output, but at a lower level.

A white paper (“Solar Cell Optimization: Cutting Costs and Driving Performance” (PDF)) and a video (“Solar Cell Optimizers Offer Huge Gains in Energy Harvesting“) are also available.

Advantages claimed are;

– increases energy harvest: offers optimum shade mitigation, providing 30% additional power over diodes

– extends reliability: eliminates hotspots and minimizes the impact of power degradation mechanisms

– enables flexible design: higher degree of flexibility to incorporate multiple string lengths, multiple orientations, and expanding modules into partially shaded areas

– simplifies operation: fully integrated solution simplifies design by requiring no additional hardware, specialized inverters, or data services

Solar Cell Optimizer Technology information page

Maxim Integrated: www.maximintegrated.com

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