A Perth-based engineering startup is looking to change the way that Australia – and the world – looks at solar inverters. Sunvertec, which announced itself to the world at the Solar 2015 conference in Melbourne earlier this year, says that it has developed a first-of-kind ‘distributed inverter’ system that promises both cost savings and industry-leading efficiencies. And to boot, it will even be Australian-made. Sunvertec is currently seeking partners to join the venture, which aims to deliver the solution to market in 2015 and achieve better than USD$0.10 per watt pricing by 2020.
Microinverters have been a hot topic in the solar industry for some time now. Instead of converting the DC electricity produced by solar panels into grid-friendly AC electricity at a central location (as is the case with string inverters), microinverters do this job from inside the solar array – usually at a rate of one per panel.
While not yet comprising a large part of the Australian inverter market, the benefits that microinverters promise are significant: higher efficiencies, greater ease and detail in system performance monitoring, and simple installation. However, traditionally, systems that uses microinverters have been more expensive for the end user than systems that uses a string inverters, and the performance differential between the two is not large enough to translate into a tangible economic benefit – in short, the benefit gained is generally not worth the additional cost.
Sunvertec is aiming to change the conventional wisdom about microinverters by reinventing the technology to be both extremely efficient and cost-effective. “With the Xenos system we aim to make module level power conversion available to all at the lowest possible price,” says Kevin Davies, one of the founding father-son team.
How Sunvertec’s distributed inverter system works: By varying each module’s contribution to the waveform, the output power of each module is matched to the power available from connected solar panels. (You can also view this animation here.)
Sunvertec’s Xenos system benefits: Efficiency, safety, and ease of solar system design & installation
While conventional microinverters work more or less independently of one another, Sunvertec’s ‘Xenos’ takes a ‘one from many’ approach where each unit generates just a portion of the total AC waveform. All of the series-connected units working in sync with one another, delivering more efficient overall power conversion with fewer costly electronic components than conventional string or microinverter systems. It is for this reason that Sunvertec describes the Xenos system as a ‘distributed inverter’ rather than as a collection of microinverters.
According to Sunvertec, the Xenos distributed inverter architecture will deliver a number of benefits, including:
- System efficiencies of better than 99% – higher than any other inverter solution on the market;
- Lower prices than conventional string inverter or microinverter systems – aiming to deliver to end users for USD$0.10/W before 2020;
- Worldwide Distribution by partnering with existing manufacturers through an innovative price per watt auction system;
- Increased levels of safety compared to conventional string inverter or microinverter systems – thanks to Xenos’ per panel earth leakage measurement and rapid shut to earth on isolation or fault detection; and
- Design flexibility – can be installed on complex, multi-angled roofs as well as roofs with shading.
Manufacturers encouraged to express their interest
Sunvertec’s Xenos inverter system has been five years in the making and comes on the back of over two decades of electronic engineering and manufacturing experience. Mr Davies says that he and the rest of the minds and hands behind Xenos are well acquainted with the ins and outs of the electronics industry and have the resources and wherewithal to see their system product brought to life. They plan to achieve this by partnering with manufacturers and investors and are currently collecting expressions of interest. An expression of interest form can be can be completed on the company’s website.
Xenos system to be demoed in Perth’s Kings Park this Spring
The next step for Sunvertec is a public demonstration of the system. Sunvertec has commissioned a 5kW mobile solar array. The array will be deployed in Perth’s Kings Park at a demonstration that will show the efficiency and functionality of the system. Potential partners will be invited to view the demonstration and later, Sunvertec’s manufacturing capabilities.
Are you an installer? Express your interest as well
If you are from an installation company and are interested in using the Xenos system, make sure you let your supplier know.
© 2015 Solar Choice Pty Ltd