Speaking with SolarBridge Technologies at the recent Solar Power International conference in Texas I learned that the manufacturer of microinverters has paired with SunPower Corp. to combine their areas of expertise. SolarBridge Technologies will supply their PantheonTM microinverter for the SunPower E18 & E19 AC panels.
The all-black E18/225 W AC solar panels and the E19/240 W AC solar panels will be available in the U.S. in early 2012. The factory-integrated AC panels are certified to UL standards and backed by a 25-year warranty. “AC solar panels powered by SolarBridge are simple to install and reliable,” said Ron Van Dell, president and CEO of SolarBridge.
With a reduced voltage-temperature coefficient and superior low-light performance, the panels provide 18.1% and 19.1% efficiency, respectively, says the company. The SolarBridge Pantheon offers 95.5% efficiency and performs maximum power point tracking at the panel level, further increasing energy harvest particularly on shaded roofs or suboptimal roof orientations. The combined AC panel provides an increase in energy production up to 25% over string/central inverter-based systems.
Designed for reliability, the microinverter contains no electrolytic capacitors or failure-prone components common in other microinverter designs, says SolarBridge Technologies. Matching the lifetime of SunPower’s panels, the Pantheon eliminates planned inverter replacements – dramatically reducing overall PV system costs. Also, SunPower’s AC solar panels eliminate the need to install inverters in the field. There are no grounding electrode conductors, no separate AC trunk cables, no DC components, and no DC cables to manage. Combined, the company says this saves up to $0.25/W in installation costs over string/central inverters or standalone microinverters.
SunPower’s AC solar panels make system design easy by eliminating the need for string sizing. Because of their energy harvest benefits, the panels can be installed at many sites that were previously unsuitable for solar due to shading or roof obstructions. The panels also eliminate high-voltage (up to 600V DC) strings. In emergency situations, first responders are able to turn off power at the AC panel so there is no live wiring anywhere in the building.