Power optimizers are a module-level power electronics (MLPE) solution that can be affixed on-site or embedded during the manufacturing process as a replacement for the junction box.
The Benefits of Power Optimizers
Dru Sutton and Peter Mathews | SolarEdge
What does SolarEdge do?
SolarEdge is the world’s leading provider of DC power optimizers, and is among the top global inverter companies. SolarEdge’s product portfolio includes: power optimizers; PV inverters with 98-percent efficiency and built-in DC safety features; and a web portal for module-level monitoring, fault detection and remote troubleshooting.
What benefits do power optimizers offer?
Power optimizers are a module-level power electronics (MLPE) solution that can be affixed on-site or embedded during the manufacturing process as a replacement for the junction box. SolarEdge power optimizers systems offer a host of benefits to PV system installers, owners and operators, including:
- Design flexibility: Power optimizers eliminate any electrical reason to remove modules from system configurations, simplifying the design and installation processes. By enabling larger arrays, power optimizers facilitate higher revenues and greater profits for installers, as well as lower electricity bills for end-users.
- Enhanced safety: The SolarEdge SafeDC™ mechanism provides protection for workers during PV system installation and maintenance. Additionally, in the event of extremely high temperatures and/or grid disconnection, the technology’s automatic shutdown capabilities safeguard first responders and firefighters.
- Increased energy yield: Through maximum power point (MPP) tracking, power optimizers mitigate the power loss effects of module mismatch, which can be caused by a number of factors including variances in module power, partial shading, soiling and/or uneven aging. SolarEdge power optimizers can increase output by up to 25 percent when compared to traditional systems.
- Real-time, module-level monitoring: SolarEdge power optimizers allow for module-level, string-level, and system-wide performance monitoring, reducing maintenance time and cost while increasing system uptime.
How are your power optimizers different from other power electronics solutions in the market?
Whereas microinverters replicate the entire inverter functionality at the module level, we deploy only the minimal amount of electronics—for MPP tracking and DC-to-DC conversion. The result is a lower total cost and a lower failure rate.
In terms of performance, SolarEdge’s electronics can handle up to 700 watts of PV power and up to 125 volts, which is more than twice the power level of the leading microinverters. The result is module compatibility with 60-cell, 72-cell and high power crystalline silicon modules, as well as 2-to-1 support for 60 and 72-cell modules in commercial systems.
Overall, power optimizers offer enhanced benefits over microinverters, at about half the cost, making our technology the most scalable MLPE choice on the market.
What is the additional cost to add power optimizers to a typical system and what is the average payback time?
The added cost for SolarEdge power optimizers is negligible given the immediate and long-term financial benefits power optimizers unlock. The savings in design time and electrical components combined with the increased energy from larger systems and higher production from each module means a lower total cost of energy for customers.
How big is the power optimization market worldwide?
Globally, the MLPE market is expected to grow considerably in the next few years, achieving 5 GW installed by 2017. What we’re seeing is that power optimizers are moving beyond niche status and becoming a vital component to installations of all sizes around the world.
What part of the world is currently growing the fastest as far as product demand?
SolarEdge ships products to customers in more than 50 countries around the world. Established solar markets, including the United States and Germany, are showing the strongest demand for this technology, and we’re also gaining traction in other markets across North America, Europe, Asia and Australia.
What is ahead for SolarEdge in 2014 and beyond?
SolarEdge experienced a breakthrough year in the U.S. in 2013, with 400 percent growth over 2012. Abroad, we are seeing growth in regions like the UK, Japan and Australia—essentially, anywhere there is a healthy solar market. We also recently launched our commercial line of products, featuring 2:1 connectivity for reduced rooftop part count, as well as our firefighter gateway, which provides an off switch for PV systems during emergencies.
In 2014, we will continue to expand our global footprint and strengthen our product offerings for residential, commercial, and large-scale systems. The module-level power electronics sector will only continue to grow in the years to come, and SolarEdge is poised to capture a considerable share of the global market.
Peter Mathews leads the North America team as General Manager for SolarEdge in the Americas and is responsible for all business activities. He is a veteran of more than 25 years in the global semiconductor and solar industries in senior sales, marketing and business development roles. He has led various companies through the start-up, IPO and growth phases including Enecsys, Solyndra and FormFactor.
Dru Sutton leads the Technical Marketing group for SolarEdge in North America, focusing on highlighting the benefits of distributed solar power harvesting. Since joining the solar industry in 2005, Dru has worked in Applications, Sales, and Marketing at several international companies including REC Solar and Q-Cells. Dru installed a grid-tied solar electric system on his home in 1998 and has a BS in Engineering from UC Davis.
The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of AltEnergyMag
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