Industrial and academic partners are developing a battery inverter which can be grid connected under normal operation but can also use nearby renewables generators to form an island grid, for whole-area uninterrupted power supply.
CREE has developed a new MOSFET that could be suitable for silicon-carbide-based string inverters above 10 kW in size. The U.S. manufacturer says switching losses are 20% lower with the new transistor than with common silicon carbide MOSFETs, and claims that the product reduces conduction losses by 50%, to offer potential power-density growth of 300%.
Japanese researchers have investigated the effectiveness of SiC devices in sub-kilowatt applications. A 790g device was tested in a mini PV generator system which included a battery and maximum power point tracker circuit in the same housing. Compared to traditional mini inverters the SiC device showed 3% higher efficiency.
The sizeable rooftop array will feature latest-generation inverters. The project planners claim using 1500 V technology on a commercial rooftop allowed them to drive down costs 10-15%.
In pursuit of a lower levelized cost of energy for the next generation of inverters, some manufacturers have turned to acquiring considerably more expensive semiconductors. While this may sound like a misstep at first, the trick could be pulled off — though not easily, and not always — yet.
The new inverter was developed in the HV-SiC project under the Future Electricity Grids funding program financed by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). The inverter can regulate power currents of up to 10-15 kV more than ten times higher than regular silicon inverters. Fraunhofer says this makes new system architectures for power grids and plants conceivable.
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