SMA Solar Technology AG (SMA), the Fraunhofer Institutes for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) and Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials (IFAM) and Phoenix Contact GmbH & Co. KG have initiated PV Pack, a joint research project that focuses on innovative inverter concepts. The goals of this joint project are to develop alternative solutions for cooling technologies and advanced packaging and to research application of new cooling materials. The new packaging concepts will be optimised in terms of how they interact with the power electronics used in inverter systems. As a result, three-phase photovoltaic inverters in the 10kW to 40kW range should see a marked improvement in functionality, efficiency, cost and service life. The project is backed by €1.4 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) as part of its “Power Electronics for Improved Energy Efficiency (LES) Part 2: Electronics for the Energy of the Future” initiative. SMA is responsible for coordinating the project.
Technologically, inverters are the most important components of PV systems. They determine the efficiency and reliability of the entire system. To further strengthen the international competitiveness of the German photovoltaic industry, the technology used in inverters must be continuously improved while innovations in a wide range of relevant areas are also needed to reinforce the technological advantage the industry currently enjoys.
Mechanical and electromechanical components for connecting, supporting and cooling make up 70% of a PV inverter. The partners in the PV Pack project want to develop totally new approaches in optimisation of advanced packaging and cooling technologies. These innovative solutions will be used in a three-phase inverter to achieve a new, highly integrated system concept and then tested in real-world conditions. The results of the project will lead to significantly more compact PV inverters, which in turn will reduce costs and meet the future demands of solar power use.
The mission of the project is to develop future-proof technologies that enable more effective manufacturing of highly reliable and durable inverters in the 10kW to 40kW power range, thus contributing toward improving the competitiveness of photovoltaics and in strengthening Germany as a country of development and production.