Alencon Systems joins Emerge Alliance for developing DC power distribution standards

Alencon Systems LLC has been invited to join the Emerge Alliance, an open industry association developing standards leading to the rapid adoption of DC power distribution. Alencon Systems was selected for membership in this organization because of its unique String Power Optimizer and Transmitter product, the SPOT.

Brian T. Patterson, President of industry NGO and standards developer EMerge Alliance, explains, “The increasing use of microgrids invokes many new equipment requirements for the power industry. New types of DC-DC power optimizers, inverters and converters that help tie new distributed power sources, storage and loads into microgrids are particularly key. In addition to helping EMerge develop standards, Alencon Systems is a great example of an innovative company who has started to fill some of those market requirements with their recent product releases.”

RELATED: Module-Level Electronics O&M Equation: Looking at the solutions to address MLPE issues 

What is SPOT?

O&M Alencon

Alencon’s String Power Optimizer, the SPOT, is the PV industry’s most powerful and versatile DC-DC optimizer for large commercial and utility scale applications. It allows users of PV plants to harvest more power from their solar modules by providing highly granular maximum power point tracking (MPPT). The device also facilitates medium voltage DC transmission by stepping up the voltage harvested from PV panels.

The company has recently announced the release of the latest version of the SPOT, which features a more rugged, low profile design along with a number of unique power electronics features to allow both new and existing PV plants to generate more energy while also streamlining their operations and maintenance (O&M) activities. Alencon’s SPOT can improve the yield of PV plants from anywhere 5 – 10% on average.

The latest version of the SPOT, the fourth generation of Alencon’s DC-DC optimizer offerings, includes a variety of enhanced features to previous versions of the product. Its NEMA4 enclosure has been recast to make it more rugged yet lighter weight and thus easier to install. The SPOT’s power electronics are the most sophisticated of their kind found in the PV industry today. The 25 KW unit allows maximum power point tracking (MPPT) to be performed on four PV strings at once, twice as many as any similar device on the market today.

— Solar Builder magazine

Canadian Solar orders one of the largest single-project deployments of DC optimizers

canadian-solar-logoCanadian Solar is going to deploy Ampt LLC DC optimizers in a 33-MW PV system, which would make it one of the largest deployments of DC power optimizers in the world. The 33 MW installation capped off a six-month evaluation period by Canadian Solar, which began with a smaller demonstration project. Following the successful demonstration, Canadian Solar selected Ampt’s String Optimizer as it consistently outperformed other designs while costing less.

“Our initial work with Ampt surpassed expectations and laid the groundwork for the 33 MW utility-scale installation,” said Ken Rowbotham at Canadian Solar. “We chose Ampt for its clear technology advantages which support our broader commitment to being the industry-leading provider of clean solar energy across the globe.”

RELATED: How optimizers bridge the gap to 1,500-volt PV systems 

Ampt’s patented technology puts voltage and current limits on the output of each optimizer to allow twice the number of PV modules per string and eliminate half of the combiner boxes and associated cable and labor. Ampt also performs maximum power point tracking (MPPT) on every 20 modules to mitigate losses due to mismatch, and allows the inverter to operate at a high and narrow input voltage range to improve inverter performance. Ampt’s optional string-level data reporting via wireless communication helped validate comparison data.

“At Canadian Solar, we are always evaluating new technologies to lower the cost of solar energy for our customers,” said Ken Rowbotham at Canadian Solar. “The Ampt solution stood out, as it allowed us to reduce the cost of electrical balance-of-system (BOS) components, produce more energy and get the most out of the inverters.”

According to research from Global Market Insights, DC power optimizers will continue to see rapid growth in the solar market. While the use of DC optimization started with the residential market at the module level, Ampt’s String Optimizers bring unique power conversion technology to large commercial and utility-scale power plants by lowering the total upfront cost of systems while increasing energy generation.


— Solar Builder magazine

Fronius, Maxim collaborate on new string inverter, DC optimization solution

Fronius string inverters optimizers

Inverter manufacturer Fronius and semiconductor company Maxim Integrated Products, Inc. have expanded their collaboration to provide new levels of DC optimization for solar solutions. You’ll want to visit Fronius at this year’s Solar Power International in Las Vegas (booth #1521) to learn more, but here is the early scoop.

Multiple orientations, module mismatch, degradation or soiling are reasons why solar installers choose module level power electronics (MLPE) for their installations, but there are tradeoffs to working with traditional optimizers or microinverters, such as additional cost, longer install times and service difficulties. Therefore, it’s time for the next step in DC optimization.

Through close collaboration, Fronius SnapINverters and Maxim solar cell-string optimizers are now able to deliver new levels of seamless integration and high performance. Fronius has a long history of working successfully with Maxim and has committed significant engineering resources into the collaboration.

“Our engineers conducted long-term testing and focused on both stability and performance of systems with Maxim optimizers”, says Tristan Kreager, Director of Solar Energy at Fronius USA. “Fronius’ collaboration with Maxim demonstrates both companies’ commitment to providing flexible system design and ease of installation with this new generation of solar optimization.”

RELATED: LCOE Heroes: How inverters drive down PV levelized cost of energy 

The Maxim chip-based cell-string optimizer replaces the traditional bypass diode and equips each solar module with three optimizers, each independently performing maximum power point tracking (MPPT) – resulting in the best-in-class solution for shade mitigation, string mismatch and soiling. Furthermore, the solution offers a ton of design flexibility. It accommodates multiple orientations, different modules and shading or asymmetric designs with up to 20 percent difference in string length. The tolerance for shading allows for the tightest of row spacing in commercial rooftop systems without any limitations.

“As a leading inverter manufacturer and trusted brand, Fronius is a great collaboration partner for Maxim. Together we can provide the market with a reliable, cost-effective, and high-performing solution for solar optimization,” says Seth Kahn, Executive Director, Solar Products, Maxim Integrated.

Since off-the-shelf Fronius SnapINverters (Galvo, Primo and Symo lines) work seamlessly with Maxim cell-string optimizers, the installation process is identical to any standard system. There are no additional hardware components to install, no extra settings to make and no communication hassles on the roof. The deeply embedded optimizer eliminates the need for any extra installation step, which aligns with Fronius’ strong focus on best user-experience.

Modules with Maxim’s optimizer technology are available now and work seamlessly with off-the-shelf Fronius SnapINverters, which are fully available on the market.

— Solar Builder magazine

DC optimizer advocates: HDPV Alliance adds 14 big names to member ranks

HDPV Alliance

Have you head of the HDPV Alliance? It is an industry-wide alliance focused on lowering the cost and increasing the performance of PV solar systems — an alliance that just got a little bigger. HDPV announced the addition of 14 new members including: Arctech Solar, Array Technologies, Inc. (ATI), Bender, Bentek, China Sunergy, ConnectPV, Folsom Labs, GameChange Racking, GS Battery, Littelfuse, Schletter, Stion Corporation, Tabuchi Electric and Waaree.

These new members join Alliance founders Ampt, Bonfiglioli, KACO new energy and LTI ReEnergy to expand HDPV membership to over 30 companies from around the globe.

HDPV, or High Definition PV, refers to PV system designs that use DC optimizers to achieve greater system power management capability while lowering the total system costs on day one. Alliance members collaborate through defined standards and shared best practices to make lower cost and higher performing systems widely available to the industry.

“We are pleased to welcome our new members and look forward to working with them to serve our mutual customers,” said Mark Kanjorski, HDPV Alliance chair and director of marketing for Ampt. “With these new partners, HDPV members continue to work together to source projects, be more competitive within the industry, and provide customers with lower cost and higher performing PV systems.”

New HDPV Alliance members include:

Arctech Solar is one of the world’s largest manufacturers and solution providers of solar tracking and racking systems for utilities, commercial, industrial and residential projects. Since 2009, Artech Solar has over 6 GW of installations and hundreds of completed projects in more than 10 countries.

Array Technologies, Inc. (ATI) is a U.S.-based solar manufacturer of smart, cost-effective, reliable and robust solar tracking systems for utilities, corporations, small businesses and homeowners.

Bender has been a global leader in ground fault protection products for both grounded and ungrounded systems.

Bentek is a leader in engineered electromechanical and power distribution solutions for industrial applications, designing and manufacturing products such as cable harnesses, electrical combiner boxes, and custom OEM assemblies for the solar energy and semiconductor markets.

China Sunergy is a public company listed on the NASDAQ as CSUN. Founded in 2007, CSUN is a tier one manufacturer in China with 1.2 GW of solar cells and module production capacity.

ConnectPV is based in San Diego and delivers expertise and experience. ConnectPV brings over 10 years of solar PV industry experience in electrical balance of system products.

Folsom Labs develops HelioScope, an advanced PV system design tool that integrates system layout and performance modeling to simplify the process of engineering and selling solar projects.

GameChange Racking leads utility and large commercial solar racking with bankable quality, unmatched service and value pricing.

GS Battery is a leader in energy storage. GS batteries are manufactured to the highest standards and deliver high quality, long life and superior performance in a wide variety of mission-critical applications.

Littelfuse is a manufacturer of fuses and fuse holders specifically designed for the solar market. Understanding global codes and standards unique to the solar market, as well as product specifications required for the harsh environments, allows Littelfuse to provide a comprehensive range of circuit protection products.

Schletter is an internationally recognized manufacturer of solar mounting systems and design tools for residential, commercial and utility-scale PV applications. Schletter has globally designed, developed and produced solar mounting systems for more than 15 GW of installed module capacity on roofs and ground-mounted systems.

Stion is a leading manufacturer of high-efficiency thin-film solar modules. Stion is advancing the industry by dramatically improving the cost and performance of solar energy through superior manufacturing and R&D technology.

Tabuchi Electric is the world’s fifth largest solar inverter manufacturer. Globally diversified and listed on the NIKKEI, it has developed and manufactured state-of-the-art solar inverters for over 20 years.

Waaree Energies Ltd is the flagship company of Waaree Group, founded in 1989 with headquarters in Mumbai, India. It is a leading player in the solar energy space in India, as well as internationally. It has India’s largest solar PV module manufacturing capacity of 500 MW, being scaled up to 1000 MW by the end of 2015.

— Solar Builder magazine