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ST's cool bypass switches cut solar energy losses

Posted: 10 Sep 2012     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:cool bypass switches  photovoltaic modules  diodes 

STMicroelectronics rolls a family of high-efficiency cool bypass switches designed for photovoltaic modules. The SPV1512 and SPV1520 switches can be integrated directly into the photovoltaic module, decreasing installation complexity and cost. They are also said to improve the percentage of harvested solar energy that reaches end users, cutting cost per Watt of renewable energy.


The single-chip switches compensate for the variable effects of hotspots and shadows on the solar panel surface. Compared to conventional bypass diodes, the devices save up to 1 per cent of the energy produced. This translates, for a 1MW solar array farm, the annual electricity consumption of two average European households.

The SPV1512 is rated for operation up to 12V, while the SPV1520 is rated up to 20V. Other voltage options up to 120V are planned in late 2012 and early 2013 in industry-standard D2PAK and TO-220AC packages.

The SPV1512 is available in a 5mm x 6mm x 0.75mm VFQFPN package, which enables the bypass circuitry to be laminated on the back of each solar panel. This simplifies design and installation by eliminating large numbers of junction boxes and interconnects, and can reduce the cost of each panel by around 5 per cent.

Electricity generation using photovoltaic solar panels is the fastest growing renewable energy technology of the past decade according to the International Energy Authority (IEA), which states that total installed capacity is now around 65GW. The IEA's 2012 Energy Technology Perspectives calls for on-going investment in solar photovoltaic to reduce system costs and encourage growth in capacity. This investment is needed to help cut more than 50 per cent of energy-related CO2 emissions by 2050, compared to 2009 levels, if global temperature rise is to be kept within 2°C.

Major features of SPV15 family include 100mV forward voltage drop; 10µA leakage current in reverse polarity; very high resilience to electrical overstress; low operating temperature for increased lifetime; and high efficiency.

The SPV1512 and SPV1520 are sampling to lead customers, with full production planned for Q4 12. They are priced at Rs.109.29 ($2) for 1,000 piece volumes. Alternative pricing options for higher quantities are available on request.

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