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   20th Mar 09

 National Semiconductor enhance its smart solar energy capabilities by buying Act Solar

National Semiconductor has acquired Act Solar, keeping its eye on the growing potential of solar energy and smart grid power.

Solar Photo Voltaic (PV) array/panel grid generates electrical energy and power, which is very inconsistent and has to weather environmental factors through out its lifetime. California based Act Solar has developed a proprietary technology called PowerString that optimize the performance, operation and longevity of solar power plants.

Semiconductor play important role in bridging inconsistent power from many solar panels to a single DC voltage grid. The PV cell voltage and current (electrical) characteristics vary based on the shadow, dust, age and such environment parameters. The electrical and other influencing parameters need to be measured continuously to produce maximum power without any electrical burnouts.

It's absolutely a semiconductor job. National Semiconductor with its range of power ICs and power monitoring ICs and with these newly acquired technologies from Act Solar, is addressing the smart grid market well in advance.

National calls this total solution as SolarMagic family. Its products improve array performance by 6 to 11 percent using patent-pending technology, complementing central inverters by dynamically re-circulating small amounts of energy as needed. The balance of the array is maintained, assuring maximum power output. The technology utilizes a revolutionary technique for power tracking, which works by injecting energy into the string as opposed to traditional DC-DC voltage converting approaches. Early field tests and historical modeling have shown that this solution can cumulatively deliver 40 to 80 percent more power over the operating life of a solar panel installation.

The same technologies used for managing inconsistent power from solar PV panels can be used as a base for building larger public smart grid with other non-solar traditional power source from public utility companies.

Mike Polacek, senior vice president of National's Key Market Segments said, "Now with Act Solar we can further improve the performance and efficiency of solar systems, at the same time providing monitoring capabilities not available before. This will make solar installations more efficient and ultimately reduces the cost of solar energy for everyone."

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