SolarEdge Plans Further Steps In Technology Of Module Level DC Optimizers
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Part One: SolarEdge Has Already Shipped 10 Million Optimizers And Plans New Steps In Technology
In the end of last year SolarEdge introduced its new HD-Wave technology for inverters combined with the power optimizers. Now the ramp-up for the automatic production in Hungary is in full process to be finished soon. During this year the distribution of its new inverters powered by HD-Wave technology will start, the first devices were already installed in Decembre 2015.
Another test installation Binder can see from his office: On the rooftop of the next building runs a solar power generator (100 kilowatt) for short-term and long-term tests with the new equipment.
A lot of data and experience gained
The R&D department contains two main parts: design of new hardware, development of new software. In the final step both branches unite for system integration. “During the integration process, the point is to check the system in different types of scenarios that the system might experience in the field”, Yaron Binder explains. “In order to reach this goal, we had to develop our own automated testing system and routines.”
Today the engineers have gained a lot of data and experience in modeling separate module types (crystalline silicon, thin film), strings with varying number of modules, connected serial or parallel, yield curves over a day and shading. “A central part of R&D is the testing of our components and products under harsh conditions, for instance very high and very low temperatures, from 125 degrees to minus 40 degrees Centigrade, salty environments, and damp-heat-tests”, resumes Binder. “As we test our power optimizers and inverters, we also test inter-operability with other components, such as energy storage batteries.”
The SolarEdge inverter ranges from 2.2 to 6 kilowatts (single phase) and from 4 to 33.3 kilowatts (three phases). Inventing and implementing its new HD-Wave technology took around two years. The first prototype came online in December 2015.
Switching in seconds
For storage systems, SolarEdge cooperates with Tesla from the United States. They offer two systems: an on-grid battery with StorEdge Interface Box (single and three-phase version later this year) and a backup inverter for back up loads. The second system needs a special addition with the switches and fuses for off-grid operation. Within seconds the system can switch between the grid and the backup operation. Main focus in R&D at the time is the energy management of the home by utilizing the battery in the most efficient way. In the future StorEdge will be compatible with other battery suppliers as well. It is possible to upgrade SolarEdge inverters to StorEdge to operate with the Tesla battery.
A very special HQ building
The building has its own medium voltage transformer. Most of the energy for the labs circles within the building in order to increase the building’s energy efficiency.
Testing is the most important thing: Many testing procedures run all day to put single components, complete power optimizers, or inverters through their paces and make suggestions for improvements. It takes up to three months to test new components until they are finally approved for further use in R&D and production.
Here SolarEdge also receives all information from the markets, all problems, failures and repairs. “If there is any technical problem with one of our devices we first try to understand it really“, Yaron Binder explains “We use the experiences of our employees and customers around the globe to continuously improve our products“.
For the engineers it is possible to track down every single power optimizer or inverter that has left the factories to the customers. They know exactly which components were built in and which test routines had been accomplished.
Coming soon: the fourth generation
After three generations of solar module optimizers now the team of SolarEdge prepares the next step. The new generation will be much smaller and more efficient than the previous. It contains no active electronic elements any more.
Until then the managers, engineers, service and marketing staff of SolarEdge will be very busy. The early vision of module level monitoring and optimizing now comes into full reality – in many markets, in many countries of the world. The solar revolution takes up speed, gains more and more ground in international business. With its new HQ SolarEdge is prepared for the game – to play a leading part in solar technology and installations. (Heiko Schwarzburger)