The history of the global photovoltaic industry is defined by innovation. The continued growth and continued health of the solar power industry is now more than ever before for companies to invest in research and development. From technology start-ups to global electronics companies, new components that provide marginal improvements or game-changing solutions, the efficiency and performance of global PV systems remains ADVA's technological innovation.
One of the hallmarks of bringing together innovators in the solar industry is the unwavering commitment to optimizing solar PV systems, always seeking higher yields, lowering operating and maintenance costs, and increasing the return on investment for system owners. As a result, the use of module-level power electronics (MLPE) has increased dramatically in recent years, such as power optimizers or micro-inverters, which may not be surprising. As the name implies, MLPE places power electronics on components of the PV system in order to isolate the individual panels to improve overall system performance.
The introduction of MLPE marks the transformation of traditional PV system design. In the traditional PV system design, the inverter will be responsible for handling many functions and processes that PV power plants need to perform. The expansion of MLPE is driven by strong and sustained growth in the residential PV sector in recent years. Given the vast diversity of customer needs and the different residential layouts that need to be adapted, the increased flexibility that MLPE promotes means that they are increasingly being incorporated into residential PV systems.
The two main MLPEs currently used in the solar industry are microinverters and power optimizers. The micro-inverter is a smaller inverter placed on each solar module that can be integrated into the panel or placed on the panel mount. Since photovoltaic systems use micro-inverters, there is no need for separate string or centralized PV grid-tied inverters because the DC current generated by the array is converted to AC at the panel position. The power optimizer is also mounted on each panel, although instead of converting DC energy to AC, the module's power output is increased before the optimized DC voltage is sent to the system inverter for conversion. They do this by tracking the maximum power point of each module, fixing the voltage of the DC power, allowing the inverter to convert it to AC more efficiently, making full use of the roof and eliminating the limitations.
The increased use of MLPE can also be attributed to informed customers looking to get the most out of the solutions they have. In the age of fitness applications, monitoring steps go to smart meters every day to monitor energy usage in real time. Customers want to be more detailed in many aspects of their lives, just like the solar industry. MLPE helps promote module-level monitoring and provides customers with the ability to evaluate module performance to maximize efficiency and increase return on investment.
Therefore, as with many aspects of today's PV systems, MLPE offers installers and owners another option, which technology to choose. However, the latest analysis from IHS Markit shows that power optimizer solutions are beginning to be favored by PV installers rather than micro-inverters, and one of the main reasons is the flexibility of the system design they support. The benefits of a flexible residential system are obvious to both installers and customers. Being able to provide solutions that they know can meet the needs of the entire market means they no longer need to purchase multiple solutions from different vendors, which helps to significantly reduce operating costs.