SiC Example of SiC Component That Has Made Inverters Super Efficient and Reliable

I designed PV inverters in the 1990’s.  even then we were hitting numbers around 95%.  Operating at higher voltages had some advantages when it came to efficiency but that required using a standard diode which suffered from something called reverse recovery losses.  The work around was to use Schottky diodes which had very low reverse recovery losses and lower forward voltage both of which improved the efficiency.  Unfortunately they only worked up to about 150V.  So there was always the trade-off game going on to optimize efficiency.   High voltage and get killed by reverse recovery losses or low voltage and get killed by the high currents and I^2 losses (the fact that losses go as the square of current means that you lose a lot on the wires and parasitic resistance.  Enter SiC (Silicon Carbide) components.

The SiC Schotky’s available today work at much higher voltage than the Schottky’s of the past. In the device below it can withstand voltages of 1200V.  This simplifies the design and makes it far more energy efficient.  These devices are continuing to come down in price and increase in capability.

Simpler design = lower engineering cost and faster time to market with new designs.

Energy efficiency = Less heat sinking which lowers size and weight of the inverters and therefore the cost.

Energy efficiency is also attractive to end users. For indoor inverters, lower AC costs. For all inverters, higher efficiency means more of the sun’s energy is converted to electricity.

Inverters rated at 98% efficiency are readily available today.  For example, this Unit from Solectria and this SMA unit with CEC rating of 98.5%.  Find more examples on this list from the CEC.


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