Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.

Lightweight PV Inverters

Ideal Power

Dual Bi-Directional IGBTs Modules Enables Breakthrough PV Inverter Using Current Modulation Topology

Graphic of IPC's technology
Program: 
ARPA-E Award: 
$2,499,787
Location: 
Austin, TX
Project Term: 
01/30/2012 to 05/29/2015
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Technical Categories: 
Critical Need: 

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. Ideal Power'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 Ideal Power's next-generation PV inverter. With these components, Ideal Power 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.

Potential Impact: 

If successful, Ideal Power would reduce the weight of PV system components by 95%--significantly reducing the cost to manufacture, ship, and install PV systems.

Security: 

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.

Environment: 

Solar energy systems create zero harmful emissions while providing energy to homes and businesses, so their widespread use would significantly improve air quality.

Economy: 

This project could help position the U.S. as a leader in the power electronics industry.

Contacts
ARPA-E Program Director: 
Dr. Michael Haney
Project Contact: 
Dr. Paul Bundschuh
Partners
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Release Date: 
9/29/2011