Infineon, SMA team for SiC solar inverter design

January 21, 2020 //By Nick Flaherty
SMA Solar Technology (SMA) in Germany has teamed up with Infineon Technologies to use the latest silicon carbide power devices in its SiC solar inverter designs.
SMA Solar Technology (SMA) in Germany has teamed up with Infineon Technologies to use the latest silicon carbide (SiC) power devices in its solar inverter designs.

Infineon developed a customer-specific solar inverter power module for SMA that includes both a classic TRENCHSTOPIGBT and a CoolSiC MOSFET with body diode. The ANPC (Active Neutral-Point Clamped) topology allows system voltages up to 1500 V maximum to be switched with switches designed for 1200 V. This allows the topology to use the advantages of SiC, even though only some of the switches in the EasyPACK module are based on it. Overall, the use of SiC reduces the complexity in the inverter, increasing the efficiency and making the system easier to maintain and extends its service life.

Photovoltaic (PV) systems such as solar inverters with a total output of around 600 GW now supply clean and cost-effective electricity, the equivalent of 600 medium-sized coal-fired power plants.

 

SMA's Sunny Highpower PEAK3 solar inverter can be used for decentralized photovoltaic power plants that operate up to the megawatt range with a 1500 VDC design that delivers an output of 150 kW per unit. The solar inverter uses six of Infineon's CoolSiC EasyPACK 2B power modules and 36 gate drivers of the EiceDRIVER family 1ED20 to convert the direct current generated by the solar cells into grid-compatible alternating current with an efficiency of over 99 percent.

"Silicon carbide enables us to build the inverters compact, powerful and reliable," said Sven Bremicker, Head of Technology Development Center at SMA. "In the Sunny Highpower PEAK3, the CoolSiC modules almost double the specific output from 0.97 to 1.76 kW/kg. Due to the compact design, the inverters are much easier to transport and much faster to install." The advantages of a decentralized plant layout can thus be combined with those for central inverters. Expansions are easily possible even after the photovoltaic power plant has been commissioned.

"SiC-based power semiconductors are more expensive than silicon solutions," said Dr. Peter Wawer, President of the Industrial Power Control Division of Infineon. "But thanks to the electrical properties of the material, this


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