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New Wirewound Tubular Lug Resistors mounting terminals, the E Series enhances
Range Ohmite’s hugely successful lug offering by
Available with three durable coating options; adding sizes commonly used by the European
lead-free vitreous enamel, silicone-ceramic and electronics market. Rugged construction allied to
our patented, flameproof Centohm cement a choice of coatings makes these resistors ideal
designed to withstand temperatures to for applications requiring high wattage ratings.
2000°C, the E Series will range from 72 to
700 Watts. Available in both adjustable and www.ohmite.com
fixed styles, with both live and isolated integrated

Fairchild Semiconductor
Gain a Highly Efficient and Flexible Point- complex power system requirements found
of-Load Power Conversion Solution with in applications such as datacom equipment,
Fairchild’s Digital Power Controllers servers, FPGA power supplies, DDR memory
These digital power controllers combine power supplies and industrial control equipment.
digital loop control with highly integrated power
management capabilities to offer flexible, http://www.fairchildsemi.com/products/
easy-to-design power delivery solutions. digitalpower/index.html
These controllers address a wide variety of

Texas Instruments
TI’s New Eight-Channel Sequencer and of equipment, including telecommunication
Monitor with Non-Volatile Error Logging, switches, servers, industrial, networking and
UCD9081, Supports the Latest Generation test equipment. The UCD9081 is available from
Microprocessors, ASICs and DSPs, to Texas Instruments and its authorized distributors
Improve System Reliability and Ease in a 32-pin QFN package. Application notes,
Eequencing on Boards with Multiple Points evaluation modules and the GUI software tool
of Load. for the UCD9081 are also available online at
The sequencer operates from a 3.3-V supply
and does not require external memory or a www.ti.com/ucd9081-pr
clock, to help reduce board space in a variety

International Rectifier
International Rectifier’s Latest Power conversion stage product line for computing
Management Solutions. and communications applications. In addition,
IR features a range of innovative products IR’s DC-DC converters and modules for
and platforms addressing applications for high reliability applications, and benchmark
lighting, AC-DC, audio and appliances including MOSFETs, IGBTs and high-voltage ICs for a
the iMOTION™ integrated design platform for diverse range of applications will be on display.
variable speed motor drive, as well as the latest
X-Phase® and DirectFET® MOSFET chipsets, http://www.irf.com/whats-new/nr081028.html
SupIRBuck™ family of integrated voltage
regulators and iPOWIR™ integrated power

ITW Paktron
Non-Polarized Polymer Film Capacitors Features “non-shorting” operation and does not
(CS Series) Designed for Mission Critical crack like large ceramic chip capacitors under
Applications temperature extremes or high vibration. There
ITW Paktron’s Multilayer Polymer (MLP) Film are no DC or AC voltage coefficient issues with
Capacitors (Type CS Series) feature ultra-low polymer film capacitors.
ESR and high ripple current capability and are Capacitance values range from 0.33µF to
designed for high frequency filtering and EMI/RFI 20µF and voltage ratings are 50 to 500 VDC.
suppression in power conversion applications. Lead time is stock or four to six weeks.
Provides mechanical and electrical stability,
compared to multilayer ceramic capacitors. www.paktron.com
Special Report
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Industrial Fiber Optics in

is usually controlled by a DSP embed-
ded controller via a fiber optic link, to
provide efficient and reliable switch-
ing control with high galvanic isolation


There are numerous rectifier and in-

verter control switches available:
• Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor

Wind turbine and wind farm applications • Gate Turn Off Thyristor (GTO)
• Integrated Gate Commutated Thy-
ristor (IGCT)
• Symmetrical Gate Commutated
Global warming and climate changes from CO2 emissions of traditional energy sources, such as those Thyristor (SGCT)
• Emitter Turn Off Thyristor (ETO)
powered by fossil fuels, have created huge markets for alternative power generation. Wind turbine
energy has become a popular alternative to meet the fast growing energy demand. Unlike fossil fuels, Fiber optic components are common-
ly used to control a high voltage and
which are a limited and diminishing resource, wind energy is limitless and readily available.
current switching device, with reliable
Figure 3: ETO’s two-level voltage source converter phase leg block diagram. control and feedback signals (Figures 2
By Alek Indra, Technical Marketing Engineer, Avago Technologies, Singapore and 3).

onversion of wind energy into • Condition monitoring systems Wind turbine power is used to con- Condition Monitoring System
utility grade AC power requires • Wind farm networking vert kinetic energy into electrical energy Most modern wind turbines have in-
power electronics, such as telligent features to monitor and control
rectifiers and inverters. In a high power the system to accommodate varying
generation system, galvanic insulation wind conditions. For example, atmo-
becomes very important to ensure the spheric sensors detect wind speed and
quality and reliability of the power gen- direction. Other sensors monitor the
eration. Fiber optic components offer condition and strength of the turbine’s
protection by providing insulation from parts to avoid run-to-failure.
high-voltage glitches and unwanted
signals into power electronic devices. Wind turbines need to withstand
extreme weather conditions, such as
Avago Technologies offers highly reli- storms and lightning. In these types
able industrial fiber optic components of conditions, it is important to ensure
for data-acquisition/control and isolation that the turbine’s monitoring system is
in the power generation market. Featur- designed to provide high voltage and
ing out-standing performance in high current isolation. Fiber optics becomes
insulation voltage and high immunity a preferred choice of medium as it offers
to EMI, these products are able to be much higher voltage and current isola-
installed and operate in close tion properties compared to optocou-
proximity to power-carrying conduits plers and other similar components.
which emit disruptive electrical inter-
ference. As the demand for renewable Figure 1: Wind turbine power generation block diagram. Figure 4: Elements within a wind turbine nacelle requiring fiber communications. In the nacelle of the wind turbine (Fig-
energy grows globally, wind turbine (Wind Turbine Development: Location of Manufacturing Activity, S. George and S. ure 4), short link distances using fiber
designs are becoming larger and larger. Matt, “Renewable Energy Policy Project”, September 2004) optics can utilize POF (plastic optical
Avago’s industrial fiber products offer a fiber) and Avago’s HFBR-0500Z prod-
wide range of data-rate and link lengths through use of a generator. As wind voltage conversion from the low volt- ucts. Connectors with snap-in, latching
for many applications in this power gen- conditions vary, the electrical energy age generated by the wind turbine, to and screw-in designs are various
eration market. created from the generator needs to be medium/high voltage for transmission. options designers can select from.
converted for usability. A rectifier, in- Avago’s versatile link sub-family allows
Key applications for industrial fiber verter, transformer and filter are needed Rectifier and Inverter field connector capabilities for POF and
optic components in wind turbine sys- within the wind turbine, in order for The rectifier and inverter are key com- the associated connectors, allowing for
tem include: utility-grade AC power to be transmitted ponents in the wind turbine system. field repairs, maintenance and installa-
• Power electronic gate driver for rec- over long distances (Figure 1). The rectifier converts noisy AC power tion.
tifiers and inverters to DC power, while the inverter con-
• Control and communication boards A transformer is usually installed verts DC power to clean and reliable AC Besides good isolation properties,
• Turbine control units Figure 2: IGBT's Gate Driver Block Diagram. at the bottom of the tower to provide power. The switching of these devices these products provide excellent signal

48 Power Systems Design December 2008 www.powersystemsdesign.com 49

Special Report – Renewable Energy Special Report
Special – Renewable
Report Energy
– Renewable Energy

Minimize Losses in Solar

Common Avago Fiber Optic Components Part Numbers integrity as they are immune to electro-
magnetic interference (EMI). It becomes
an excellent solution for monitoring
system communications over long dis-

tances with reliable data transmission in
high voltage/current applications.

For greater ESD and EMI protection,

Avago’s HFBR-0506AMZ series offers
a metalized packaging that provides
excellent shielding. The SMA-styled
connector also works well in areas with
vibration and mechanical shocks.
Rectifier technology maximizes efficiency
1. Optical link distance varies with operating data rate. Lower data rate allows longer Wind Turbine and Wind Farm Energy efficiency and ‘green power’ have become buzzwords of the semiconductor
optical link distance. Networking
HCS is a registered trademark of OFS Data collected from the condition
industry over the last 18 months, as manufacturers introduces innovative products to meet stringent
monitoring systems, with the use of new energy efficiency legislation. The industry, however, has on the whole paid little attention to
short-link POF fiber links in individual
the rapidly growing renewable energy market.
wind turbines, are typically multiplexed
into HCS (hard-clad silica) or multi-
mode fiber cables. The longer link By Ian Moulding, Business Manager, Diodes Incorporated
distances of HCS and multi-mode fiber

may be needed if wind turbine towers enewable energy is concerned These systems are used in remote or more of the photovoltaic modules are
are greater than 100meters in height. Fi- with the generation of electricity portable applications such as caravans obscured by cloud or other external
ber cables are both robust, offer greater from sustainable natural resourc- and boats. Grid connected systems interference such as the overhang-
resistance to harsh environmental ele- es that include biomass, hydro power, feature an additional inverter stage ing branches of a tree or when the
ments and are lightweight. All of these wind power and solar energy. The solar that converts the DC input into an AC photovoltaic module is faulty. In such
are requirements for vertical cabling in panels market is forecast to quadruple output that is synchronized to the public circumstances, the current is instead
wind turbine towers. in value to 80 Billion dollars by 2016 electrical grid. The most successful conducted via the bypass diode. Ideally
(source: Clean Edge Inc, 2007). This is example of a grid connected system is the losses during this mode of operation
Industry standard connectors like the just one example of growth in renew- in Germany, the ‘feed-in’ system. This would be zero; however the conduction
ST/ST-thread and SMA are all available able energy that will see it displace gas rewards individuals, who have invested losses of a PN junction diode are less
from Avago. The HFBR-0400Z series to become the second largest source of in solar power, with an attractive price than ideal as it has a forward voltage (VF)
operates over both HCS and multi-mode electricity generation after coal, by 2016 for selling the electricity they produce of typically 0.6V. When 10A of current is
fiber, which offer greater bandwidth and (source:IEA, 2007). back to the utility company. Such tariffs flowing from the photovoltaic cells this
link distance as compared to the POF are fixed for long periods of time (twenty equates to a power loss of:
solution. These parts are commonly A solar panel operates on the prin- years or more) allowing the individual
used in wind turbine towers and over ciple of the photovoltaic effect, whereby investor to see the long-term benefit. As P = V*I = 0.6*10 = 6W
long distance wind farm networks. a suitably doped PN junction diode will a result of this approach there has been
become forward biased when photons rapid growth in the solar panel market Such losses impact the overall effi-
Avago Technologies has developed a hit its surface, causing a current to flow. in Germany to such an extent that in ciency of the system and are one of the
Figure 5: Wind farming configuration. series of fiber optic transmitters, receiv- Solar panels are constructed from a Germany solar power accounts for 39% factors that limit the typical efficiency of
ers and transceivers for wind turbine number of photovoltaic modules that of the megawatts generated globally by a solar panel to around twenty percent.
Common Avago Fiber Optic Components Part Numbers monitoring systems and networking are electrically connected in series to solar panel systems during 2007.
applications. Avago offers parts from achieve a desired DC output voltage Secondly, during normal operation,
650nm, 820nm or 1300nm, which have and/or in parallel to provide the requisite The bypass diode plays a critical role current will flow through the photovol-
data rates up to 160MBd to meet indus- current rating. Bypass diodes are con- in the safe and reliable operation of taic modules, as shown in Fig1b. In this
try customers’ needs over various link nected in parallel with each photovoltaic the solar panel and must fully meet the mode of operation, the bypass diodes
distances. module in order to provide a conduction stringent requirements of IEC61730-2 will be operating in reverse blocking
path around the photovoltaic mod- Solar Safety Standards. The bypass mode and the bypass diode should
www.avagotech.com ule during ‘dark’ conditions to avoid diode actually has two key functions: have a VRRM that is sufficiently large
overheating. The minimization of heat is enough to block the DC voltage across
essential, since overheating will reduce Firstly, as already mentioned, it pro- the terminals therefore avoiding reverse
the overall efficiency of the solar panel, vides an alternative conduction path, as breakdown conditions. Moreover, it
shown in Fig1a, when one or more of should also possess a low reverse leak-
Notes: Solar panel systems can be either the photovoltaic modules do not con- age current (IR) specification to prevent
1. Optical link distance varies with operating data rate. Lower data rate allows longer “off grid” or “grid connected” systems. duct due to ‘dark’ conditions. the energy stored in the battery leaking
optical link distance. In the former, the DC output from the away, thereby maintaining the efficiency
HCS is a registered trademark of OFS solar panel feeds a battery/charger. These conditions occur when one or of the system.

50 Power Systems Design December 2008 www.powersystemsdesign.com 51

Special Report – Renewable Energy Special Report – Renewable Energy

PowerDI5TM. With a footprint of just

23.8mm2 the PowerDI5TM provides an
87% reduction in board space and
a similar reduction in profile when
compared with traditional power
packages such as D2Pak, enabling
bypass diodes to be integrated into
the solar panel array instead of the
junction box.

Innovations such as the super bar-

rier rectifier technology, are contribut-
ing towards significant improvements
in typical solar panel efficiencies. It
is expected that innovations such as
these and others in material science
for example will contribute towards
improving the efficiency of a solar
panel from, typically 18% today to
30% within the next few years.


Figure 2: Comparison of IR against ambient temperature for SBR vs Schottky


A Powerful
Figure 1a: Bypass diode operation during partial shade conditions.
Figure 1b: Bypass diode operation during normal conditions.

Schottky diodes are an attractive of solar panel applications can be met. This represents a reduction in by-

alternative to PN diodes since they pos- Super Barrier Rectifier (SBRTM), a unique pass diode power dissipation of 57%.
sess a lower forward voltage (VF) at rea- patented power rectifier technology from Therefore, the lower VF of Super Bar-
sonable leakage currents (IR). However, Diodes Incorporated meets the need. rier Rectifiers significantly reduces the
the lower reliability of the Schottky metal SBR utilizes a metal oxide semiconduc- power dissipation in the bypass diode,
barrier contact within the device limits tor (MOS) process, to manufacture a increasing solar cell power generation
PowerPack and ePowerPack is a new
its operation at high temperatures, and superior two terminal device that has a and overall efficiency. Similarly, the high- advertising program in print and online designed to
reduces its reverse and forward surge lower forward voltage (VF) than compa- er stability of SBR at higher temperature promote your company’s new products, seminars,
withstand capability. Consequently, the rable Schottky diodes, while possessing is illustrated in Fig 2. and announcements while driving traffic to your
performance of a Schottky diode de- the thermal stability and high reliability company’s website.
grades rapidly with temperature, limiting of PN junction diodes such as ultrafast This demonstrates that the SBR has a
the junction temperature (TJ) of a typical diodes. higher specified maximum junction tem- Advertisers receive a 100 word listing, plus product
Schottky diode to 150oC. In order to perature (TJ) than a Schottky diode and photo and url link in print to 20, 357+ subscribers
comply with the thermal test require- The SBR10U45SP5 is one of a family ensures that it meets the requirements of Power Systems Design’s magazine and online
ments of IEC 61730-2 the junction tem- of bypass diodes that Diodes Incorpo- of IEC61730-2. It is therefore signifi- through ePowerPack e-newsletter which is delivered
perature of the bypass diode must be rated has introduced to meet the needs cantly less likely to enter into thermal every month to an audience of 24,000 power elec-
able to support 170oC, depending upon of the rapidly growing solar panel mar- runaway. tronic engineers in Pan Europe and 32,000 power
the forward voltage (VF) of the diode. ket. As can be seen, from table 1, the design engineers in North America. To participate
Schottky diodes are therefore unsuitable device has a typical forward voltage (VF) An additional benefit of the super bar- contact: Julia@powersystemsdesign.com
for use as a bypass diode. of just 0.38V. Substituting this device rier rectifier technology is that it is a high
into the earlier equation would result in: density process, enabling high perfor-
It is clear from the preceding dis- mance devices to be specified in small
cussion that there is a need for a two P = V*I = 0.38*10 = 3.8W footprint low profile package such as the

PowerPack PowerPack
terminal semiconductor device that pos-
sesses low (VF), low leakage current (IR) Power Systems Design Power Systems Design
and high reliability at high temperatures,
in order that the stringent requirements Table 1: Summary performance of an SBR diode under IEC61730-2 thermal test.

Power Systems Design December 2008 PowefulComboAd.indd 1

www.powersystemsdesign.com 3/13/08 5:58:47 PM
52 53
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Democratizing Solar
with power levels ranging from
just under a kilowatt to several
hundred kilowatts. These conven-
tional inverters are often installed
indoors or in protected chambers
to protect them from extreme

AC PV modules lead the way temperatures, dust, and rain. The

system is built by wiring the PV
panels into an array of parallel
strings, each consisting of a suit-
As the world faces the economic, environmental, and political consequences of its heavy dependence
able number of series-connected
on fossil fuels for energy, the search for a suitable alternative only grows more intense. panels. The array output is routed
to the inverter dc-input. String
By Nasser Kutkut VP Technology Development and Hussam Al-Atrash, inverter inputs are typically de-
signed for a high DC voltage of
Principal Engineer, Petra Solar, Inc. 150-700V.

he collection of solar energy tives and rebates, the payback time on designed to behave as AC current
through photovoltaic (PV) cells is a a PV system remains excessive, which sources. As such, they are designed String inverters suffer from a
particularly promising technology. cripples the growth of the distributed PV to push high-quality sinusoidal output number of drawbacks including
Sunshine is an abundant resource, while market. current in phase with the grid voltage. multiple single point failures (pan-
PV technology is clean, quiet, and suit- The amplitude of this output current is els or inverter), a high-voltage DC
able for distributed installations. Grid- Conventional String and Multi-String dependent upon the amount of power string configuration, which repre-
tied PV technology allows the integra- Inverters available from the PV source deter- sents a safety hazard, and costly
tion of PV resources into the utility grid The dc-ac inverter is at the heart of mined through a maximum power point installations as they require spe-
near points of load. a grid-tie PV system. Its main func- tracking (MPPT) process. cial training and special protec-
tion is to convert the PV output energy tion measures which adds to the Figure 2: Multi-string inverter system architecture.
Today, cost is the primary challenge from its raw variable DC form to a grid- Conventional grid-tie inverters can overall system cost. All wiring is
facing PV power systems. Presently, the compatible AC form. Grid-tie inverters be generally classified into string and to be enclosed in special conduit,
solar electricity price index ranges from are designed to work with the grid, a multi-string inverters. String inverters, and DC protection fusing and dis-
21.41¢/kWhr for industrial applications stiff AC voltage source and thus are as shown in Fig. 1, are large inverters connects are required. Moreover,
to 37.78¢/kWhr for residential firemen and service people need
applications. This price index is to be careful around such an
primarily driven by PV module array. The array is especially dan-
cost (~40%-50% of system gerous when the inverter or the
cost), inverter cost (<10% of utility is absent, since the voltage
system cost), balance of the would be highest!
system costs (~10%-20% of
system cost), and labor and in- Successful string inverter in-
stallation costs (~30%-40% of stallations require careful system
system cost). Since the inverter design. Miscalculation of worst-
cost constitutes a small per- case maximum open-circuit volt-
centage of the overall system age of a panel string is a common
cost (<10%), a major reduction cause of inverter failure. Panels
in inverter cost will not have a within a string need to be very
major impact on overall system closely matched: same manufac-
cost. On the other hand, soft turer, age, condition, and orienta-
costs (labor and installation) tion. This is because one weak or
constitute more than 1/3rd of degraded panel would limit the
the system cost. Reducing power output of the whole string.
these costs can result in major Since string inverters implement Figure 3: The AC PV module.
reduction in overall system a single MPPT process, special
cost. attention is needed to ensure that process is applied to each of these trained personnel adding to the overall
a string does not get partially shaded by panel strings. This allows the panels to system costs.
Grid-tied PV cannot yet a chimney, a tree, or nearby objects. be grouped into a number of smaller
compete with the cost of com- groups, as shown in Fig. 2. A problem Micro-inverters and the rise of the AC
mercial power generation on a Multi-string inverters present a partial in one group does not affect the other PV Modules
$/kWh basis. The result is that solution to string inverter drawbacks. A groups. However, similar to string in- Micro-inverters are small grid-tie
grid-tied PV is heavily depen- multi-string inverter accepts several dc verters, multi-string inverters feature a inverters with power levels ranging from
dent on government incentives input circuits and processes their power hazardous high voltage dc bus and still 150-250W and are designed to handle a
and rebates. Even with incen- Figure 1: String inverter system architecture. independently. An independent MPPT require installation by specialized and single PV panel. In this type of system,

54 Power Systems Design December 2008 www.powersystemsdesign.com 55

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Reliability in Renewables
inverter designer is working against
the economies of scale. A micro-in-
verter is still required to perform the
same functions as a string inverter,
typically 15-25 times larger! Com-

Hi-Rel SKiiP® IPM´s undergo unique burn-in

ponents do not scale down properly
in size, cost, power consumption,
or performance. Many, such as the
controller, do not scale down at all.
The addition of circuits for efficiency
improvement and/or extra protec-
under worst case conditions
tion features is often not feasible. Young developing markets such as wind power generators, solar power, electric vehicles, welding
The micro-inverter reliability machines, electric drives, lifts, power supplies, conveyor belts and trams need highly robust solutions.
requirements are even more chal- As a significant innovator in the power electronics sector, many of Semikron’s progressive developments
lenging. Micro-inverters are located
behind the panels making mainte- have been accepted as industrial standards.
nance difficult or impossible. Micro-
Reported by Cliff Keys, Editor-in-Chief, PSDE
inverters are thus required to be far

more reliable than string inverters. he high operational reliability of powers 44 Gigawatt installed wind pow- standard modules. SKiiP has no base
In addition, the MTBF for a micro- the SKiiP IPM´s is further stressed er capacity. The total wind power ca- plate and less solder layers resulting in
inverter needs to be quite high and tested during unique burn-in pacity installed is 94 Gigawatt. (Source: lower thermal-mechanical stress inside
and ideally matching the PV panel. tests only offered by SEMIKRON. Com- BTM Consult ApS, 03/2008) More than the module. The thermal cycling capa-
This is especially challenging since pared to suppliers of standard modules, 15 years of experience in pressure con- bility is five times higher than a standard
these inverters are installed out- this test is possible because of the high tact technology is integrated into this module with base plate and is reached
doors and are exposed to extreme integration of the module. The power power module. even under the harsh climatic conditions
temperatures and weather. Electro- semiconductor, gate driver, current sen- renowned in the wind energy indus-
lytic capacitors used in inverters are sors, protective functions and matched The principle of the technology is to try. High load and temperature cycling
Figure 4: AC PV module based solar power system. especially susceptible to elevated cooling are already integrated in the use mechanical pressure pressing the capability is ensured with the patented
temperature and can become the IPM. SKiiP is the only intelligent power DBC to the heat sink without soldering. SKiiP pressure contact technology. The
a micro-inverter is connected to a single their improved energy harvesting com- limiters of inverter life-time. module in this power range for the wind This results in a homogenous pressure module is available in 1200V and 1700V
panel and is installed close to it. The pared to string or multi-string invert- market. During the burn-in test the mod- distribution with a thermal connection for currents from 500A to 2400A.
inverter AC output is directly routed to ers. Since the integrated micro-inverter Conclusion ule is operated in a one or four-quadrant between the ceramic substrates carrying
the AC breaker box. No series or paral- operates with a single panel, a true In summary, the AC PV module is modus and tested at elevated tem- the semiconductor chips and the heat According to the European Renew-
lel DC connections are made between per panel MPPT is implemented which poised to truly “democratize solar” as perature and elevated voltage. The test sink. An improved thermal resistance able Energy Council, renewable ener-
panels, leaving all DC wiring at a low maximizes the power output from each it offers a budget friendly incremental ensures higher reliability of the inverter (Rth(j-s)) of 40% is reached compared to gies will cover more than 35% of energy
voltage level of a single panel (typically panel in a system. Recent studies have installation. Unlike string inverter based in the wind power plant. needs worldwide by the
<60Vdc). shown upward of 20% increased energy system where a base residential sys- year 2030. Against the
harvesting with micro inverters. tem cost could approach upwards of SKiiPs are operated backdrop of a dynamical-
Taking the granularity one step further, $25,000, low budget end users can for approximately two ly growing market, these
an AC PV module is a factory assem- Finally, and since each AC PV module get started with few AC PV modules to hours under worst case intelligent integrated
bled micro-inverter integrated into a PV includes an integrated micro-inverter, supplement their power usage and add real inverter conditions modules are ideal for use
panel. In such a configuration, the DC larger solar power systems are AC more modules as they go. This is the at elevated temperature in wind generators and
wiring is not accessible to the user and coupled where the output of the AC PV true spirit of democracy. and elevated voltage. reduce production times
the output of the integrated module is modules are connected in parallel (Fig. All root causes of early and consequently, the all-
AC. Fig. 4 shows a typical AC PV mod- 4). As a result, the AC PV modules do www.petrasolar.com failures are identified and important time to market.
ule architecture. not need to be matched thus allowing eliminated. SKiiP under-
end users to mix and match panels from goes one of two burn-in Digital driver – proven
The AC PV module is the first modular various manufactures and with varying cycles. The modules are control platform for
solar power system that greatly sim- power levels. This greatly increases flex- tested with cooling water IGBT modules and sys-
plifies system design and eliminates ibility and eliminates single point failures at 80°C and cycling at a tems
safety hazards. In addition, and since thus providing for true redundancy. constant chip tempera- The digital driver SKY-
no DC wiring is accessible, installation ture. Junction tempera- PER 52, which has al-
is greatly simplified and can be easily AC PV Module Design Challenges ture of the silicon reaches ready proven to be a suc-
performed by any electrician and/or end Since the core of an AC PV mod- temperatures of up to cess in driving IGBT mod-
users. This translates into significant ule is the micro inverter, the market 140° (IGBT3) to ensure ules, is also being used in
savings in installation costs and leads to would thus require micro-inverters to high stress levels for the SEMIKRON systems. This
lower overall system costs. compete with string inverters in terms module. SKiiP is the only intelligent power module for the wind market driver boasts a wealth of
of performance, cost (per Watt), and with power semiconductor, gate driver, current sensors, protective functions with a minimum
Another benefit of AC PV modules is efficiency. This means that a micro- The SKiiP IPM´s now functions and matched cooling already integrated. of components, making

56 Power Systems Design December 2008 www.powersystemsdesign.com 57

Special Report – Renewable Energy Special Report
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Renewable Energy
that integrate power semiconduc- that the gate driver can process the low-
tor, cooling, capacitors, driver and voltage 3.3V and 5V controller signals
controller hardware. without the use of a level converter. Im-
munity to interference signals is thereby

The SKYPER digital driver improved. The powerful SKYPER 52
transmits the commands of the driver can be used in applications with
controller for the power semicon- currents of up to 9000 A and frequen-
ductor with a high level of signal cies of up to 100KHZ. The galvanic
integrity, i. e. clear logic levels. As isolation between the controller and

Real-time control is affordable solution

a result, the resistance to inter- power modules can withstand voltages
ference factors is improved. The of up to 4KV. The digital driver is ROHS-
flexibility of this driver is owing to compliant and suitable for 1200V and
the fact that the switching proper- 1700 V IGBT modules.
The digital driver SKYPER 52 offers a high ties can be programmed individu- Throughout the world, there is an increasing demand for renewable energy, yet system manufacturers
ally. Voltage variation can thus In contrast to analog solutions, Semi-
level of signal integrity, providing reliable im- continue to face the same issues that have always slowed the growth of this technology: increasing the
munity from interference signals. be optimised and EMI immunity kron’s digital technology offers many
guaranteed. Complex filter cir- benefits from complex functions. The total amount of power gathered and decreasing cost per watt.
the digital driver even more flexible and cuits are no longer needed, which demand for easy integration of the gate
robust than before. SKYPER 52 offers saves the user money. Thanks to the control into converter solutions and the By Arefeen Mohammed, Texas Instruments C2000 Systems &
a high level of signal integrity, provid- increased number of functions offered fusion of driver and controller interfaces
Applications Engineer Houston, Texas Instruments
ing reliable immunity from interference by SKYPER 52, additional settings such confirm the need for a versatile digital

signals. The digital driver communicates as sequential IGBT turn-off in the event control platform. olar power has been around for The inverter’s role and stages and several hundred kilowatts peak
via CAN input/output, providing the op- of malfunction are possible. years and, if all goes well, may The main function of the inverter is to (KWp), allowing inverters to be designed
timum interface between controller and www.semikron.com grow by $21 billion by 2017, ac- convert variable direct curre nt (DC) volt- around sophisticated source topologies,
power module. As a result, this driver is SKYPER 52 works with low-voltage cording to IMS research. One important age input from the source into a clean either with or without transformers, and
particularly suitable for use in systems differential signal transmission, meaning way to help achieve these goals is by sinusoidal 50- or 60-Hz output for use with the integration of multiple control
adding greater intelligence to the control by appliances and/or feeding back into processors. Figure 1 shows where the
of the inverter, which converts the vari- the grid. Single or multiple phases may inverter fits into an all-inclusive photo-
able voltage output of the collector into be required by different applications. In voltaic (PV) system that not only charges
a steady voltage that is used for running addition to DC/AC conversion, inverters a battery and drives local AC loads, but
applications or charging batteries. Intel- perform such functions as disconnect- also ties to the grid and has an alter-

ligent inverters maximize power transfer ing the circuit to protect it from power nate power source in the form of an AC
from the gathering source, synchronize surges, charging the battery, logging data generator. Similar configurations apply
power output with the electrical utility, on usage and performance, and maxi- to wind turbines and other sources.

and protect the local system from po- mum power point tracking to keep power
tentially damaging changes in the grid. generation as efficient as possible. Transformers and protection
Because the source input is usually
While sun- and wind-powered sys- Nominal power ranges between one not high enough, the system can either

tems are obvious applications, intelligent
&.108&3*/((-0#"- inverters can also benefit other sources
*//07"5*0/ of power, such as fuel cells, in order to
maximize output. For all such applica-
$IJOB…&VSPQF…/PSUI"OFSJDB tions, highly effective inverter control is
available from 32-bit real-time microcon-
In print and online. trollers (MCUs), which have been shown
For Power Electronic Engineers Only. to cut conversion efficiency losses in
For a full media kit, contact: half while significantly reducing costs.
julia.stocks@powersystemsdesign.com The increased cost of using a 32-bit
processor can be mitigated by choosing
a modern MCU that can handle most of
the entire system’s requirements, includ-
ing AC-DC conversion, DC-DC con-
version, and communication between
panels in addition the demands of the
inverter itself. In addition, cost-effective,
highly integrated MCUs with real-time
control capabilities are now available,
enhancing performance and making the
job of programming complex algorithms
easier. Figure1: PV and generator hybrid system.

58 Power Systems Design December 2008 www.powersystemsdesign.com 59

Special Report – Renewable Energy Special Report – Renewable Energy

step up the voltage with a transformer tined to happen in solar inverter design, version stage. Just as an AC transformer algorithms allowing the
on the AC side or boost it in the DC/ perhaps the most important feature for inherently provides galvanic isolation, so main CPU to handle I/O
DC conversion stage. Just as an AC an MCU is software programmability. does a phase-shifted full-bridge DC/DC and feedback loop metrics
transformer inherently provides gal- This feature would allow the highest de- converter with zero voltage switching, resulting in up to 5 times
vanic isolation, so does a phase-shifted gree of flexibility in power circuit design thus making the latter equivalently a increased performance for
full-bridge DC/DC converter with zero and control. transformer. some real-time control ap-
voltage switching, thus making the lat- plications.
ter equivalently a transformer. Figure 2 Load balancing control is required Obtaining maximum charging power
shows a commonly used DC/AC circuit when the panels are connected in paral- The efficiency of battery charging The combination of 32-bit
with transformer for single-phase inver- lel. The MCU must be able to detect the depends on the input voltage, which performance, enhanced
sion, based on an H-bridge configu- load current and increase or decrease can be highly variable, depending on peripherals and small pack-
ration controlled by four pulse-width the output voltage by turning off the wind conditions for a turbine, or sea- age sizes allows designers
modulated (PWM) signals. output MOSFET. This requires a fast on- son, cloud cover and time of day for PV to add real-time control and
chip ADC to sample the voltage and panels. Battery conditions vary, too, de- system management with
Transformers add weight, bulk and current. pending on the charge state, so some- a single Piccolo microcon-
cost, and they also cause a reduction in times it may be necessary to adjust troller.
efficiency of about two percent. On the Since the source input is usually not the voltage and current ratio in order to
other hand, they increase circuit pro- high enough, the system can either step increase the total power delivered and Micro-inverters
tection and human safety by isolating up the voltage with a transformer on the speed charging. Maximum power output of voltage and current is at its peak, A 32-bit real-time microcontroller A relatively new option for optimizing
the two sides of the circuit electrically, AC side or boost it in the DC/DC con- to the battery occurs when the product the maximum power point (MPP). MPP An example of a microcontroller with solar system efficiency and reliability is
preventing a DC fault from flowing to tracking (MPPT) is designed to deter- advanced real-time control capabilities to use micro-inverters that connect to
the AC side, and an AC leakage cur- mine this point and adjust the DC/DC is Texas Instruments Piccolo™ series of each individual solar panel. Equipping
rent from developing a potential issue voltage conversion in order to maximize microcontrollers. The Piccolo devices each panel with its own micro-inverter
between PV panels and ground. The the charging output. MPPT can increase feature architectural advancements and allows the system to accommodate its
design may include a residual current the overall efficiency of a solar system enhanced peripherals in package sizes changing load and atmospheric condi-
protection device (RCD) that monitors by a third or more during winter months, starting at 38-pins to bring the benefits tion, which provides optimal conversion
the currents of all phases, and then trips and its effect in other types of systems of 32-bit real-time control to applica- efficiency for both the individual panels
the relay if the current exceeds a certain can be significant, too. Figure 3 shows tions like micro-inverters that demand and the entire system.
value. Because of the risk of current how the determination of MPP can vary lower overall system costs. In addition,
leakage, RCDs are especially important with different conditions. members of the Piccolo MCU series Micro-inverter architectures also en-
for safety in transformerless systems. have integrated dual on-chip 10MHz os- able simpler wiring, which translates
The most common algorithm for cillators for clock comparison, on-chip into lower installation costs. By making
Protection of the system mandates determining MPP is for the controller to VREG with power on reset and brown consumers’ solar power systems more
inclusion of a relay to protect the con- perturb the panel’s operating voltage out protection, multiple high resolution, efficient, the time taken for the system
version and charging circuitry against with every MPPT cycle and observe 150ps PWMs, a 12-bit, 4 mega-sample/ to “pay back” on the initial investment
voltage surges and spikes on the grid. the output. The algorithm continues s ADC and interfaces for the I2C (PM- for the technology shortens.
In addition, if a power line is dam- oscillating around the MPP over a Bus), CAN, SPI, UART communications
aged or the utility has to shut it down, wide enough range to avoid local but protocols. A key to renewable energy
the inverter needs to stop feeding out Figure2: DC/AC stage with transformer. misleading peaks in the power curve Renewable energy systems are
electricity to the utility. A “non-islanding” caused by, say, movement in cloud Performance is a critical characteristic continually being improved in order to
inverter senses that the line has been cover or a brief wind lull. To the extent for micro-inverters. Although Piccolo achieve greater efficiency that will lower
de-energized, is under- or over-voltage, that the perturb and observe algorithm devices are less expensive and have a the cost per kW. While much attention is
or has a significant disturbance for oscillates away from the MPP in each smaller footprint than other C2000™ deservedly paid to improving PV panels
whatever reason. When this happens, cycle, it is inefficient. An alternative, MCUs members, Piccolo devices and wind turbines, intelligent invert-
the inverter automatically disconnects the incremental inductance algorithm, retain the powerful the 32-bit TM- ers can also contribute to making the
from the utility grid, thereby not becom- solves the derivative of the power curve S320C28x™ CPU, which makes com- technology more feasible. Variability in
ing an electricity generating “island.” for 0, which is by definition a peak, then putationally intensive control algorithms regulatory and operational requirements
settles at the resolved voltage level. more efficient. Peripherals such as makes it important to select the right
Safety and programmability While this approach does not have the enhanced pulse width modulator controller for the inverter, a controller
An unexpected but highly valued fea- the inefficiency caused by oscillation, (ePWM) support the industry’s highest that provides high performance, integra-
ture of a 32-bit MCU intended for solar it risks other inefficiencies because it resolution with frequency and duty cycle tion and flexibility. The expanded use
inverter applications is dual on-chip may settle at a local peak instead of the resolution down to 150 picoseconds. of micro-inverters for a range of appro-
oscillators, which can be used for clock MPP. A combined approach maintains priate applications is one step toward
failure detection to enhanced reliability. the level determined by the incremen- TMS320F2803x devices offer 60MHz moving solar power out of the shadows.
The ability to run two system clocks tal inductance algorithm, but scans at performance plus a new Control Law New real-time microcontrollers will con-
simultaneously can also be helpful in re- intervals over a wider range to avoid Accelerator (CLA), a 32-bit floating point tinue to help improve the efficiency and
ducing problems when the solar panels selecting local peaks. This approach, s/w programmable math accelerator lower the cost of renewable energy.
are being installed. while the most efficient, also requires that operates independent of the
the greatest amount of performance on C28x™ CPU. The CLA is designed www.ti.com
Because so much innovation is des- Figure3: MPP for different conditions. the part of the controller. to run complex, high-speed control

60 Power Systems Design December 2008 www.powersystemsdesign.com 61