Are module level electronics the future?

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Module level electronics mean having an inverter or an optimizer on the backside of a solar module instead of the simpler junction box. The purpose of the optimizer/microinverter is to manage the output of a single module so that it doesn’t affect other modules. Enphase goes the direction of a true inverter on the back of a module – with AC electricity leaving. SolarEdge, with their optimizers, adjust the module output to keep the voltage constant. Both of these techniques minimize the affect of shadows, module mismatch or other effects limiting string level efficiency.

 

An article that I wrote on electrek today talks about AT&T linking up with SunPower to show off the Internet of Things when applied to an individual solar module. This concept potentially lines up well with what Enphase is doing in Hawaii. Being able to manage individual solar module output could be an amazing way to stabilize the grid. Overbuilding the grid by 10-30% with solar modules would allow us to turn on and off modules as needed without risking brownouts due to too little energy available. Its a topic that very much interests me as I read more and more about grid operators having to keep up with the intermittency of solar/wind power. Of course, distributed battery storage can solve these same issues – but a solar module can do it without needing to use up the limited cycles of a battery.

We’re still very early in the solar industry – innovation like this will help make it work better.

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John Weaver
John Fitzgerald Weaver has worked in the Finance and Solar fields since 2005. He is currently employed by Beaumont Solar Co. with a focus on Commercial and Utility Development. John is a hands on salesman, with a strong engineering background who got into solar power because he felt a lack of inspiration in banking:

“Solar power aligned with many needs – my interests (technology), my morals (I think solar is important on multiple species wide levels), my need for growth (there is a lot to learn in this growing industry), and my desire to be part of something important (energy is one of the most important and fundamental – if not the fundamental – of human needs). I chose the Solar Life”

If you have a solar project in mind, you can reach John at 508-990-1757 extension 209

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