Balance-of-system improvements for photovoltaic applications resulting from the PVMaT phase 4A1 program Page: 4 of 5
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modify plans to reach their goals or to change the goals slightly. The improvements are summarized below but
will be better quantified in the presentation and paper.
Advanced Energy Systems, Inc. developed digital control and used soft switching techniques for their next
generation inverter line. They were designed for ease of manufacturing and economies of production, and also
included communications for remote control and service. AESI produced a prototype 50-kW utility-interactive and
a 50 kW stand-alone/hybrid inverter. The new line of inverters meet most of the requirements of utility-
interconnected, hybrid and stand-alone applications.
Ascension Technology, Inc. redesigned the overall layout for an enhanced performance, lower weight, high
reliability module scale inverter with compliance with applicable Underwriters Laboratory (UL) standards. ATI
also completed development of a complete system package for the AC PV Module using a new version of their PV
source circuit protector, an updated roof jack mounting system and a utility interconnection assembly.
Evergreen Solar, Inc. developed a new back skin material that accommodates the Innovative Mounting System
concept, eliminated the module frame and integrated the junction box. They also developed an alternative
lamination method for the new back skin; and used a new encapsulant suitable for alternative lamination methods.
Omnion Power Engineering Corporation's new resonant-link PCS was designed for higher reliability, (40,000
hours mean time between failure) and improved efficiency (96-97%), while meeting FCC standards for
electromagnetic interference, and reducing audible noise. Manufacturing costs are reduced by better controlling
the flow of assembly line materials, using fixtures for handling, and through semi-automated product testing.
Solar Design Associates, Inc. delivered kits incorporating low cost mounting systems, enhanced modular inverters
and pre-manufactured wiring systems. The units were first developed for US applications, then modified for export
to foreign markets. Units are deployed at utility team member locations in the U.S., Europe, and Japan.
Solar Electric Specialties, Inc. incorporated design innovations, low-cost manufacturing, and a listing or
certification for the system. The advantages are: shorter production lead times, higher overall quality and system
reliability, decreased engineering time, lower overhead and inventory costs, and lower material and labor costs.
Trace Engineering developed a 2.5-kW DC to AC modular power inverter that utilized, and was compatible with
much of Trace's existing, tested technology. The new design allowed for cost reductions through the increased
manufacturing volume of a single unit design, but retained versatility for expandable applications.
Utility Power Group demonstrated a 40% reduction in area-related balance-of-system (BOS) costs and a 50%
reduction in power-related BOS losses. The measured (16 kW inverter) efficiency topped 98% with no perceptible
audible noise and very low harmonic distortion in the output current.
Additional PVMaT Program Benefits to PV Manufacturers
The BOS hardware produced today utilizes improved manufacturing processes, demonstrates improved
performance and reliability, costs less and is more versatile. The cost-shared PVMaT program has, in addition to
providing for technical advance, provided incentive for manufacturers to take major steps toward improving their
products. Without the PVMaT boost, management of these relatively small companies would have been forced to
concentrate on short term, profit making endeavors, instead of allowing any long term R&D.
The manufacturers have demonstrated significant hardware improvements in manufacturability of BOS hardware
and have at the same time improved hardware and PV system performance with improved inverters, better system
compatibility and new system capabilities. New products such as listed AC PV modules, modular inverters,
inverters that use readily available and standard components, standardized systems, and have resulted from the
PVMaT 4A1 program.
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Bower, W.; Bonn, R. & Hund, T. Balance-of-system improvements for photovoltaic applications resulting from the PVMaT phase 4A1 program, article, June 1, 1997; Albuquerque, New Mexico. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc696197/m1/4/: accessed November 13, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.