Solar AC modules: It's time for PV modules to get smarter
19th March 2018
It was in 1950s that the Bell labs had produced solar cells for space activities. Since then, the solar Photo Voltaic (PV) technology around the world has seen a continuous improvementin module efficiency, development of new and smart modules, varying configurations of solar cell, etc. Out of all such improvements, the introduction of Alternating Current (AC) modules has been exhilarating. The AC module(also known as "plug and play" module) as the name suggest directly produces grid compatible AC output. This is possible due to an extra device known as micro-inverter (Figure 1) which is now mostly integrated with the junction boxes (present in the primitive PV modules).
Figure 1: A typical micro inverter (Source: Enphase Energy)
This micro inverter is connected individually to each moduleperforming two important functions namely:
Figure 2: Conversion of DC power to AC power
Figure 3: I-V curve depicting the MPP of solar module (Source: Waaree Energies)
The individual AC module are connected to each other to form an AC branch circuit which is further connected to the load/main supply panel or the generated energy is directly exported to the grid.The primary advantages of using AC modules are mentioned as below:
Such modules are of important while deployed on field primarily for the rooftop owners. For rooftop plants (while comparing to a utility scale plant) size and shadow free area availability is always constrain. This may (sometimes) lead to mismatch between the module and the inverter. Additionally future erections of property around the rooftop plant may lead to shadows being casted on the existing power plant. AC modules may offer simple yet tailor made solutions to all such plants where any future expansion or contraction in size of power plants is required. Adding or removing the modules (where required/not required) would not have any effect on the plant performance or its output characteristics.
While AC modules and micro inverters were present in the market for quite a long time, their market penetration is poised to increase in years to come. One of the reasons which may be attributed to such increase is the increased awareness of rooftop and utilizing AC modules at the rooftop. Additionally, there has been huge advancement in micro inverter in terms of both its efficiency and power output. This has given a much needed push to AC modules while enabling the top module manufacturers to add it to their product basket. It is expected that the market of AC modules worldwide would grow to more than $550 million by 2020 from around $150 million in 2017.
Waaree Energies had recently announced its partnership with one of the leading micro inverter manufacturer Enphase Energy to bring AC powered modules to Indian market while maintaining its top notch quality. We had recently launched our AC modules at Intersolar Mumbai - 2017 where it had got excellent response from the attendees. We would continue this innovative drive to deliver the best of class products and service to our consumers.
Figure 4: AC solar module by Waaree Energies
Let us all pledge to make solar energy the primary source of energy in the near future.
RAHE ROSHAN HAMARA NATION