MUNICH, Germany At the Intersolar trade fair here, National Semiconductor introduced its new product line of SolarMagic PV power optimizers and won the fair's technology award right away.
The introduction of the technology announced half a year ago marks National's strategic entry into the photovoltaics market exactly 50 years after the company was launched.
With SolarMagic, the company aims at improving the performance of PV systems impaired by factors such as shading, ageing or panel mismatch. While National Semiconductor CEO Brian Halla, who presented the product at the press here, did not explain much of the technical principles, he said he sees it as a great step for the company towards a greener future. The trade fair organizer saw it the same way and awarded its Intersolar technology award to the company.
"This is the point where electronics meet photovoltaics", Halla said. National Semiconductor claims the device does not only improve the efficiency of PV installations but it also opens up areas hitherto unfit for the installation of such systems.
According to Halla, mismatches between solar cells and other physical effects such as ageing or dirt can degrade the output power of a solar installation by as much as 50 percent. Field trials have shown SolarMagic can recover up to almost 55 percent of the energy lost. The company quoted field trials of the system with solar system integrator HaWi Energietechnik AG (Eggenfelden, Germany).
In these tests, a conventially wired solar photovoltaic system was compared with an identical one fitted with the National product. In both installations, a structure representing obstructions partially shaded the solar cells. Although 16 to 20 percent of the array was shaded, it resulted in an average power loss of almost 28 percent. The array with the power optimizer produced on average between 7 and 21 percent more electric energy under same conditions, effectively recouping 54 percent of the lost power, National says.
HaWi CEO Hans Wimmer agrees. "What has been particularly impressive is its ease of integration", Wimmer said, adding that the technology is "module agnostic".
Related Articles and Links
Analysis: Bankrolling green technology
National Semiconductor to help solar installers meet shade challenges
National Semiconductor enters photovoltaic market
Shedding light on solar cell technology