Lightweight PV Inverters
Ideal Power Converters (IPC)
Dual Bi-Directional IGBTs Modules Enables Breakthrough PV Inverter Using Current Modulation Topology
01/30/2012 to 01/29/2015
Photovoltaic (PV) solar systems convert the sun's energy into electricity, but only a small percentage of the sunlight that reaches a PV system is converted into useful electricity. This is due in part to the inefficient and failure-prone electrical components used in most PV systems today. Improving the performance of these components would lower the overall cost of PV systems--helping to make renewable solar energy cost-competitive with conventional, nonrenewable forms of electricity generation.
Project Innovation + Advantages:
PV inverters convert DC power generated by modules into usable AC power. IPC's initial 30kW 94lb. PV inverter reduces the weight of comparable 30kW PV inverters by 90%--reducing the cost of materials, manufacturing, shipping, and installation. With ARPA-E support, new bi-directional silicon power switches will be developed, commercialized, and utilized in IPC's next-generation PV inverter. With these components, IPC will produce 100kW inverters that weight less than 100lb., reducing the weight of conventional 3,000lb. 100kW inverters by more than 95%. The new power switches will cut IPC's $/W manufacturing cost in half, as well as further reduce indirect shipping and installation costs.
If successful, IPC would reduce the weight of PV system components by 95%--significantly reducing the cost to manufacture, ship, and install PV systems.
Lowering the cost of PV systems would help increase the use of solar energy, which in turn would decrease our dependence on fossil fuels and improve U.S. energy security.
This project could help position the U.S. as a leader in the power electronics industry.
Solar energy systems create zero harmful emissions while providing energy to homes and businesses, so their widespread use would significantly improve air quality.