PV Pack Research Project – Innovative Solutions for New Highly Integrated Inverters in the 10-kW to 40-kW Range

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 optimized in terms of how they interact with the power electronics used in inverter systems. As a result, three-phase photovoltaic inverters in the 10-kW to 40-kW 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.

Today, 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 optimization 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, thus meeting 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 10-kW to 40-kW power range, thus contributing toward improving the competitiveness of photovoltaics and in strengthening Germany as a country of development and production. 

About SMA
The SMA Group generated sales of €1.5 billion in 2012 and is the global market leader for solar inverters, a key component of all PV systems and, as an energy management group, offers innovative key technologies for future power supply structures. It is headquartered in Niestetal, near Kassel, Germany, and is represented internationally in 21 countries. The Group employs more than 5,000 people worldwide. SMA’s broad product portfolio encompasses compatible inverters for every type of module on the market and for every system size, including inverters for both PV systems connected to the grid and inverters for off-grid systems.   SMA is therefore able to provide ideal technical inverter solutions for all system sizes and types.  Since 2008, the Group’s parent company, SMA Solar Technology AG, has been listed on the Prime Standard of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange (S92) and also in the TecDAX index. In recent years, SMA has received numerous awards for excellence as an employer with first place in the nationwide “Great Place to Work®” competition in 2011 and 2012 and fourth place in 2013.

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