Application and development prospects of solar inverters

In recent years, solar energy has become a major form of renewable energy due to numerous environmental and economic benefits and proven reliability. Since the solar power system does not contain moving parts, once the system is installed, it does not actually require any maintenance. This article introduces the main application areas of solar photovoltaic technology, and focuses on the development status and application prospects of solar inverters.

Application field of photovoltaic technology

Photovoltaic technology is mainly used in the following fields:

Household grid-connected system: This is the most popular type of home and enterprise-level solar photovoltaic power generation system application in developed regions. The connection to the local power grid allows excess power generated by the photovoltaic system to be transferred to the power grid and sold to public institutions. When there is no sun, power is output from the grid. Inverters are used to convert direct current (DC) generated by photovoltaic systems into alternating current (AC) required to operate general electrical equipment.

Grid-connected power plants: At a plant location, these systems, which are also integrated into the grid, generate large amounts of photovoltaic power, with capacities ranging from hundreds of kilowatts to several megawatts. Some of these power plants are located in large industrial buildings such as airports or train stations. These power plants use the available space to compensate for part of the electrical energy required by high-energy users.

Rural electrification off-grid system: Where electricity is not available, the photovoltaic system is connected to the battery through a charge controller. An inverter can be used to provide AC power for general electrical appliances. A typical off-grid application is to supply power to remote areas (such as mountainous houses and areas in developing countries). Rural electrification refers to the following two types of applications: a small household solar system that can meet the basic electricity needs of a family; or a slightly larger small solar power grid that can provide enough energy for several families.

Hybrid system: The solar system can be combined with other types of energy (such as biomass power generation, wind power generation or diesel power generation) to ensure a continuous and stable supply of electricity. The hybrid system can be grid-connected, independent, or backed up by the power grid.

Off-grid industrial applications: In the field of telecommunications, it is often necessary to use solar power for remote applications, especially where remote rural areas need to be connected with other areas of the country. The application of mobile phone relay stations powered by photovoltaic or hybrid power systems also has great potential. Other applications include: traffic lights, HNA support systems, security phones, remote lighting, highway signs and wastewater treatment plants. Because they can provide power to areas where power cannot be transmitted, thus avoiding the high cost of laying the line network, so these applications currently have cost advantages.

Solar photovoltaic inverter

A typical solar power system consists of solar photovoltaic arrays and inverters. Photovoltaic panels directly convert sunlight into electrical energy in the form of DC voltage; inverters convert the DC voltage generated by photovoltaic panels into AC voltages that can be sent to the grid. Therefore, the inverter has become the core component of the grid-connected photovoltaic system.

In addition to the characteristics of high efficiency DC / AC conversion and maximum power point tracking (MPPT), the inverter should also meet the required quality-low total harmonic distortion (THD) current, high power factor ( Close to 1) and low electromagnetic interference level, provide AC power, and optimize the process of energy transmission from the photovoltaic array to the grid as much as possible. In addition, the inverter must also meet the safety requirements of users, equipment and the power grid itself.

The inverter can adopt several topologies. One of them is a linear transformer driven by an H-bridge. This is the easiest and most reliable way to provide complete isolation between the grid and the DC front end. It also circumvents the situation where the DC current enters the grid and should be avoided. However, the serious power loss of the linear transformer will lead to low efficiency, which is the shortcoming of this topology; the large size and weight of the linear transformer are also defects of this topology.

Using output inductors to replace bulky linear transformers is another topology. This method is the most efficient in all topologies; compared to inverters that use linear transformers, this type of inverter is much lighter and more cost-effective due to the smaller output inductor. But its disadvantage is that it will not provide any form of electrical isolation between the grid and photovoltaic panels. Some countries with strict control regulations do not allow the use of such inverters.

Therefore, inverter manufacturers try their best to incorporate high-frequency, high-efficiency, small and light-weight transformers into the front-end DC / DC converters. In this way, it not only provides electrical isolation between the grid and photovoltaic panels, but also provides regulated and controlled DC bus voltage for the inverter. Moreover, the MPPT function can be implemented in the DC-DC converter part is another benefit of the above scheme. The MPPT system in the inverter can ensure that the inverter always works at the maximum power that the photovoltaic panel can output under various weather conditions and at any time of the day.

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