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Cool bypass switches cut cost per Watt for PVs

Posted: 07 Sep 2012 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:SPV1512? SPV1520? PV module? cool bypass switches?

STMicroelectronics has rolled out what it describes as high-efficiency cool bypass switches family for photovoltaic modules, enabling an even higher percentage of harvested energy to reach end users and further reducing the cost per Watt of renewable energy. The company added that the devices boast the industry's smallest dimensions, which can be integrated directly in the photovoltaic module, reducing both installation complexity and cost for consumers.

ST's cool bypass devices combine efficient power switching and intelligent control in a single chip to compensate for the variable effects of hotspots and shadows on the solar panel surface. The devices can save up to one percent of the energy produced and normally lost through conventional bypass diodes, said ST. In a 1MWp solar array farm, this loss could provide the total annual electricity consumption of two average European households.

ST's latest cool bypass devices feature new technology and control techniques that minimize energy losses in all operating modes, by ensuring the integrated power switch has ultra-low leakage current when turned off and very low voltage drop when turned on, detailed the company. They can guarantee a higher current in forward mode and a wider voltage range in reverse polarity (up to 120V).Further advantages of these devices include a reduction in typical operating temperature, leading to increased reliability and longer lifetime. Solar installations can achieve a lifespan of 25 years using this device.

The devices are available in 5 x 6 x 0.75mm-high PQFN package, which enables the bypass circuitry to be laminated on the back of each solar panel. This simplifies design and installation by eliminating large numbers of junction boxes and interconnects, and can reduce the cost of each panel by about five percent.

The SPV1512 and SPV1520 are rated for operation up to 12V and 20V, respectively. The remaining devices in the family, the 40V SPV1540, 60V SPV1560, 80V SPV1580 and 120V SPV1500, will be introduced in late 2012 and early 2013 in industry-standard D2PAK and TO-220AC packages. They feature 100mV forward voltage drop, 10?A leakage current in reverse polarity, and claim to be very resilient to electrical overstress.

The 12V SPV1512 in DPAK or 5x6 PQFN packages, and 20V SPV1520 in D2PAK or 5x6 PQFN, are available for minimum orders of 1000 units, priced at $2 each. Alternative pricing options for higher quantities are available on request.

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