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Solar inverters get efficiency boost from SiC transistors

Posted: 21 Jan 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:solar inverter? SiC transistor? efficiency boost?

The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems in Germany claims it has achieved record efficiency for its inverter designed for PV generators. Key to the high efficiency are Silicon Carbide (SiC) power transistors from U.S. vendor Cree Inc.

Fraunhofer ISE is so far the first user for these innovative power transistors, explained Bruno Burger, head of the power electronics group at the institute. "SiC transistors switch faster and show less forward resistance, compared to conventional components," Burger said. Hitherto, SiC components were used mostly to produce white LEDs.

The inverter, designed for a power range of up to 5kW, is characterized by an efficiency of 98.5 percent, the institute claims.

Besides the SiC MOSFETs, a novel inverter topology dubbed Heric was responsible for the high efficiency. Heric, for which a patent is pending, improves the efficiency by one percentage point, Burger said.

The institute plans to license the technology to industrial customers, Burger explained. However, the production will depend greatly on the availability of the semiconductors, which presently are only in the prototype state.

- Christoph Hammerschmidt
EE Times Europe

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