Santa Clara, Calif.—National Semiconductor Corp. has entered the photovoltaic market with new technology designed to increase the overall energy output of solar electric power generating systems. National says its SolarMagic technology extracts the maximum power efficiency of each photovoltaic panel, even when some panels in the array are compromised by shading, debris, or inherent panel-to-panel mismatch.
"National's entry into the photovoltaic market is a natural extension of our focus on energy efficient systems," said Brian L. Halla, chairman and CEO. "Our technologists solved this real-world problem and are enabling consumers to produce more energy under adverse conditions and reduce the payback time of their investment with an environmentally friendly source of power."
Today's solar installations are impacted by non-uniformities caused by shading, panel mismatches, and accumulation of dirt. A small amount of shading in the array can cut the energy harvest of a system in half, making certain installations cost-prohibitive. The SolarMagic technology is designed to recoup up to 50 percent of the lost energy.
The new technology is a per-panel electronics solution that maximizes power output of multi-panel installations. It is compatible with today's solar architectures regardless of the underlying solar cell technology.
National has entered field trials with REgrid Power, Inc., one of the largest solar installers in California, which has begun system testing. "We have observed energy output improvements of up to 44 percent during shaded conditions and 12 percent overall versus the same system running without SolarMagic technology," said Tom McCalmont, president and chief executive office of REgrid Power. Several additional solar companies are slated to join the field trials over the next several months, and National will expand field trials to include installers in other countries. Later this year, National plans to introduce SolarMagic products for solar installers and system providers.
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