Instead of running thick heavy copper wires to harvest low voltage DC power from multiple solar photovoltaic panels in a solar farm, the smart, energy efficient and cost saving option now is to use micro solar inverters embedded below the solar panel itself, so that the stepped-up AC voltage from the micro-inverters are connected to a gridlike AC bus, which is lighter, cheaper and less lossy. A kind of mini smart grid to connect solar panels of different capacities. This also solves another issue of inconsistent energy generation due to shade.
The leading industrial IC chip maker Texas instruments has launched its 32-bit MCU C2000 Piccolo based micro solar inverter development kit.
The key features of this design reference kit according to TI are:
Implements control of an active clamp flyback DC/DC converter with secondary voltage multiplier, MPPT and a grid-tied DC/AC inverter, comprising the power conversion stages of the solar micro inverter.
Supports panel voltages of 28 to 45V at input as well as universal power output at up to 280W for 220VAC and up to 140W for 110VAC, making it suitable for the diverse requirements of worldwide solar markets.
93-percent peak efficiency and less than four percent total harmonic distortion (THD) provide more power output per solar panel, reducing detrimental heat dissipation and increasing system longevity.
C2000 Piccolo F28035 MCU serves as a high-performance controller for the complete micro inverter system, executing high-frequency control loops for the DC/DC and DC/AC power stages.
Single MCU system implementation offers design simplicity and reduced system cost.
C2000 Piccolo F28035 MCU operates the inverter at a high PWM frequency, 100 KHz, to reduce harmonic distortion and lower passive component costs.
Integrated features of the C2000 Piccolo F28035 MCU enable efficient control of each power stage: 4.6 MSPS 12-bit analog-to-digital converter, low latency C28x real-time processing core and feature-packed, 150 ps high-resolution PWM modules.
The new C2000 Solar Micro Inverter Development Kit (TMDSSOLARUINVKIT) is available now for $850 USD. TI also offers complementary solar development platforms for centralized or string solar inverter topologies: The C2000 High-Voltage MPPT Kit (TMDSHVMPPTKIT) for $550 and the C2000 High-Voltage Single-Phase Inverter Kit (TMDSHV1PHINVKIT) for $450.