Talking investment: From the lab to next-gen PV


Huawei is known for making significant R&D investments. What kind of spending are we talking about for the energy business?

Our Digital Power Product Line, which is one of Huawei’s eight product lines, has recorded some of the fastest growth, covering fields such as a data center facility, telecom energy, smart PV, and mPower. This product line currently includes nine R&D centers, over 1,200 patents, and more than 3,000 R&D personnel. And at least 15% of annual sales revenue from the product line is invested in R&D. Currently, Huawei Digital Power Product Line R&D centers have been established worldwide, including in Germany, Japan, Sweden, and the cities of Shenzhen, Shanghai, and Xi’an.

Huawei is a huge entity with many different business units. How are you bridging the Smart PV business unit with the company’s other technological arenas?

For example, 2012 Laboratories is a renowned Huawei laboratory that mainly focuses on the development of next-generation communications, chips, wireless, cloud computing, audio and video analysis, data mining, as well as machine-learning technologies for the next five to 10 years. It is Huawei’s ‘Noah’s Ark’ – leading the way to the future. It also includes an energy-related laboratory called the Watt Laboratory, which created the 40 W super-charging technology that is used in Huawei Mate series smartphones. The Watt Laboratory serves as the cradle of numeous technologies that are applied in our solar inverters, such as the AI-powered grid-tied technology and energy storage technology.

Is there any other R&D work taking place for Huawei’s Smart PV business across different facilities?

The 2012 Laboratories includes various other sub-laboratories named after world-renowned scientists or mathematicians, such as the Shannon Laboratory, which focuses on frontier research on key technologies and algorithms for the intelligentization of ICT technologies. Further examples include the Gauss Laboratory, which aims to build an industry-leading database management system; the Shield Lab, which focuses on cybersecurity, device security, cloud virtualization security, and cryptographic algorithms; and the Turing Laboratory, which concentrates on research regarding AI technologies and applications.

As Huawei’s research base, 2012 Laboratories not only represents top-level research in China, but it also has considerable global influence. The powerful global R&D platform ensures the world-leading performance of Huawei solar inverters. Huawei applies new technologies and materials, developed by company experts and doctors, to new products to maintain our industrial competitiveness.

With grid parity, large utility-scale PV projects are taking off globally. How is Huawei innovating to serve this market segment?

For large-scale PV plants, Huawei will further integrate new ICT technologies such as AI and 5G with PV to embrace the era of grid parity. The AI Boost Smart DC System (SDS) integrates bifacial PV modules, trackers, and smart PV controllers configured with multiple MPPTs to ensure optimal DC system performance. Based on neural networks, AI training and modeling enable trackers to be adjusted at an appropriate angle to ensure the highest energy yield of each PV string. AI Boost Smart I-V Curve Diagnosis 4.0 is an upgraded version that supports more application scenarios and delivers higher diagnosis efficiency. For example, the detection for a 100 MW PV plant currently only takes 15 minutes. In addition, it is applicable to various scenarios such as shingled modules and mixed PV module installations.

In terms of grid-friendliness, the Huawei smart solar inverters can ensure seamless and high-quality solar inverter power generation. Huawei applies an AI self-learning algorithm for impedance reshaping. This algorithm integrates multiple advanced algorithms, such as the adaptive algorithm for dynamic damping, and supports a minimum short circuit ratio (SCR) of 1.5, an industrial-leading figure.

Where are you currently focusing R&D efforts within the Smart PV Business Unit for the distributed-generation (DG) rooftop market?

For distributed deployment, we will continue to improve the rooftop smart PV solution to become the most comprehensive string solution provider in the industry. The arc-fault circuit interrupter (AFCI) and Digital Turbo are powered by AI technologies to provide a more safe, better user experience.

For residential scenarios, we will launch the One-Fits-All 450 W optimizer. The optimizer can adapt to all 60-cell and 72-cell crystalline silicon PV modules in the market, and it can be configured as required. The single-phase and three-phase solar inverters both support DC coupling and are battery-ready, enabling storage capacity to be expanded as required.

In industrial and commercial scenarios, the safety of the solar inverter and the whole PV system can both be guaranteed. With AI technologies, DC arcs within the system life cycle can be detected more accurately and quickly cut off.

Are there any exciting innovations that the industry can expect from Huawei over the course of the next year in terms of digital PV solutions?

Software and algorithm R&D still focuses on fully enabling the PV field through AI Boost, including improving power generation efficiency, O&M efficiency, and proactive safety, to support the increasing use of new energy in future power grids. Huawei will also build a smart PV ecosystem through software and cloud platforms. This year, we have launched a new smart PV solution that will reconstruct a secure and reliable open digital platform. The open data interface supports third-party ecosystem applications, enabling ecosystem partners and customers to conduct customized app development. As a result, digital dividends can be shared – creating more opportunities for our customers.

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