Harnessing the power of the sun

One of the biggest challenges of the 21st century is the transition to a sustainable energy supply. In this context, renewable energies are one of the most important topics, globally, to give energy supply a new basis. An important element of this approach is: moving away from fossil fuels, which are damaging to the environment, and towards systematic use of the sun.

Inexhaustible energy from the sun

In 2012, solar systems in Germany generated just under 28 terawatt-hours of energy. That is equivalent to the capacity of more than three average large power stations. Sunny regions could produce considerably more energy than this. For instance, just 0.2 per cent of the surface of the Sahara Desert could provide energy for the whole of Europe.

SEMIKUBE IGBT power stage for PV central inverter

Power electronics are a key technology

As part of the discussion about lower CO2 emissions and sustainable electricity production, attention is increasingly focusing on power electronics. This is because, without power modules, photovoltaic systems would be unable to control energy flows to the consumer. Power electronics are responsible for converting the voltage, frequency and phase of the electricity to suit the respective application. Since photovoltaic cells produce direct current, they need an inverter to convert the direct current into AC for the power grid.

Targeting high efficiency

In solar plants, the availability of the inverter is a key criterion for ensuring economic operation.  It is equally important that the voltage supplied is of high line quality in order to meet the energy suppliers' requirements. A major selling point for inverters in stiff competition is high efficiency; ultimately, the energy from the solar panel must be fed into the grid with the minimum possible losses. The best solar inverters achieve an efficiency of more than 98 per cent.