Nav: Home

The new technology will significantly enhance energy harvest from PV modules

June 11, 2019

The whole world is inevitably moving towards a more sustainable lifestyle. Sustainability of the environment requires changes in the current way of life and introduction of new, more sustainable solutions in our everyday consumption.

The TalTech Power Electronics Research Group led by Researcher-Professor Dmitri Vinnikov has been working on improvement of the efficiency of alternative energy generation units for over decade. "In the early years of the alternative energy deployment, it was outrageously expensive for an ordinary consumer, but the developments in recent years, the triumph of materials technology and the efforts of power electronics engineers have made the price much more affordable for the consumers," Professor Vinnikov says.

The research group led by Dmitri Vinnikov is focusing on the research on solar photovoltaic energy production. Under ideal conditions, any photovoltaic system (solar power plant) would supply consumers with electricity without any problems. Unfortunately, at our latitude there are no ideal operating conditions for PV modules. The environmental and natural factors that affect the performance of such systems most are (apart from Nordic sunlight) deposition of dirt (snow, soil, leaves) on PV module surfaces and long shadows created by lower sun angle affect.

"In order to convert energy, which comes from the renewable energy sources, into electricity for the consumers, a grid converter must be used, which transforms the output of the renewable energy source into a current suitable for home appliances. In addition to a converter, a special devices called power optimizer must be used to maximize energy harvest so that it would not be influenced by weather and would provide maximum benefit for the consumer," Dmitri Vinnikov explains. The power electronics researchers of Tallinn University of Technology have taken a step further to solve this problem - they have developed a hybrid technology Optiverter? that combines the key advantages of photovoltaic power optimizers and grid converters. It is a novel power semiconductor converter technology used in the power systems of small and medium-sized PV installations, and possibly for building integrated PV.

The first prototype of the Optiverter? was created already in 2016. After three years of comprehensive R&D activities the research group is planning, in cooperation with the Estonian company Ubik Solutions OÜ, to start in the near future mass production of Optiverters, which are indispensable in residential solar PV systems.

"Thanks to the patented multimode control, the input voltage range is up to three times wider compared to commercial competitors. Like the power optimizers of PV modules, the Optiverter? ensures maximum energy harvest even if a PV module is under heavy or opaque shade, which usually blocks energy production with conventional PV microinverters. This is an advantage that distinguishes it from the current technology available on the market," Professor Vinnikov says.

The scientists estimate the lifespan of the Optiverter? to be approximately 25 years (the same as the lifespan of a top-grade solar panel). The Optiverter? has invaluable benefits compared to our current, fossil fuel based energy production. In the long term, the Optiverter technology is not only environmentally friendly but also sustainable.

"It is obvious that renewable energy, be it wind energy, biofuel, natural gas or solar energy, is the future," Professor Vinnikov says. "Even if there weren't increasingly stringent EU requirements (applied to fuel prices of motor vehicles, but also for instance to construction work and energy production, etc.) to be complied with, life itself would force us to use more sustainable alternative technologies. All this makes the current, conventional energy production increasingly costly, while the PV systems are experiencing incredible cost reduction for the last five years."
-end-
The TalTech Power Electronics Research Group led by Researcher-Professor Dmitri Vinnikov published the article "Solar Optiverter--A Novel Hybrid Approach to the Photovoltaic Module Level Power Electronics" in the professional journal IEEE Transactions on Industrial Electronics.

This work was supported by grants from Ubik Solutions OÜ, the Estonian Research Council (project PUT1443) and the Estonian Centre of Excellence in Zero Energy and Resource Efficient Smart Buildings and Districts (ZEBE).

Source: IEEE Transactions on Industrial Electronics 05/2019 https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/8402238

Additional information: Researcher-Professor at TalTech Department of Electrical Power Engineering and Mechatronics Dmitri Vinnikov, dmitri.vinnikov@taltech.ee

Kersti Vähi, Research Administration Office

Estonian Research Council

Related Renewable Energy Articles:

Cold conversion of food waste into renewable energy and fertilizer
Researchers from Concordia's Department of Building, Civil and Environmental Engineering (BCEE) in collaboration with Bio-Terre Systems Inc. are taking the fight against global warming to colder climes.
Researchers offer novel method for calculating the benefits of renewable energy
Researchers from the Higher School of Economics (HSE) have developed a novel system for assessing the potential of renewable energy resources.
Renewable energy needed to drive uptake of electric vehicles
Plugging into renewable energy sources outweighs the cost and short driving ranges for consumers intending to buy electric vehicles, according to a new study.
Renewable energy has robust future in much of Africa
Africa's energy demand is expected to triple by 2030. A new Berkeley study shows that the continent's energy needs can be met with renewable power from wind and solar in a way that reduces reliance on undependable hydroelectric power and imported fossil fuels, while at the same time saving money and providing jobs.
100 percent renewable energy sources require overcapacity
Germany decided to go nuclear-free by 2022. A CO2-emission-free electricity supply system based on intermittent sources, such as wind and solar -- or photovoltaic (PV) -- power could replace nuclear power.
Biofuel matchmaker: Finding the perfect algae for renewable energy
A new streamlined process could quickly pare down heaps of algae species into just a few that hold the most promise for making biofuel.
UChicago startup turns renewable energy into natural gas
One of the biggest challenges to wider adoption of wind and solar power is how to store the excess energy they often produce.
Improved water splitting advances renewable energy conversion
Washington State University researchers have found a way to more efficiently create hydrogen from water -- an important key in making renewable energy production and storage viable.
Research targets conflict over wind farming and renewable energy in Korea
Griffith University is undertaking a major international project to help address community conflict and disruption over wind farms and their implementation in Korea.
Move over, solar: The next big renewable energy source could be at our feet
Flooring can be made from any number of sustainable materials, making it, generally, an eco-friendly feature in homes and businesses alike.

Related Renewable Energy Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Climate Crisis
There's no greater threat to humanity than climate change. What can we do to stop the worst consequences? This hour, TED speakers explore how we can save our planet and whether we can do it in time. Guests include climate activist Greta Thunberg, chemical engineer Jennifer Wilcox, research scientist Sean Davis, food innovator Bruce Friedrich, and psychologist Per Espen Stoknes.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#527 Honey I CRISPR'd the Kids
This week we're coming to you from Awesome Con in Washington, D.C. There, host Bethany Brookshire led a panel of three amazing guests to talk about the promise and perils of CRISPR, and what happens now that CRISPR babies have (maybe?) been born. Featuring science writer Tina Saey, molecular biologist Anne Simon, and bioethicist Alan Regenberg. A Nobel Prize winner argues banning CRISPR babies won’t work Geneticists push for a 5-year global ban on gene-edited babies A CRISPR spin-off causes unintended typos in DNA News of the first gene-edited babies ignited a firestorm The researcher who created CRISPR twins defends...