What are 5 Challenges to Solar Inverters as the Demand Grows?

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As the demand for solar energy grows, so does the demand for solar inverters, which play a crucial role in converting the direct current (DC) generated by solar panels into alternating current (AC) that can be used in homes and businesses. While solar inverters have advanced significantly in recent years, several challenges remain:

1. Grid Integration and Stability

As more solar installations are connected to the grid, issues related to grid stability and power quality can arise. Solar inverters need to be able to seamlessly integrate with the grid, and they may require additional features such as grid support functions to help stabilize voltage and frequency. The current sensors on the output stage of the solar inverter have a direct impact on the ability of the inverters to keep the grid stable in events of voltage and frequency fluctuation, particularly in times where the grid is placed under increased duress. Two highly advantageous attributes of sensors for these types of situational needs are as follows: a higher accuracy over both temperature and lifetime, and high bandwidth, which enables the capture of all the signal harmonics, providing better stabilization. Through their innovative design, TMR sensors provide both benefits in a compact, lighter, and single-package design, relative to many standard Hall-based solutions.

Solar power generation is intermittent and depends on factors such as weather conditions and time of day. Inverters need to efficiently handle fluctuations in power output to ensure a stable and reliable energy supply. To efficiently handle the fluctuations that accompany high levels of power output, the solar inverter system uses a maximum power point tracking (MPPT). The algorithm requires systems comprised of current sensor solutions that have low offset drift and higher resolution (for example, a higher signal-to-noise (SNR) ratio. Allegro’s XtremeSense™ TMR technology meets these requirements with innovative design and structure. 

To learn even more about the latest trends in microgrid technology and its potential to reshape our energy landscape explore our recent whitepaper.

2. Efficiency Improvements

While solar inverter efficiency has improved, there is always a push for higher efficiency to maximize the energy yield from solar installations. Higher efficiency reduces energy losses during the conversion process. The overall system's efficiency is determined by solar inverter and power inverter efficiency. Solar inverter efficiency is determined by the resulting combination of the DC-DC converter efficiency and the DC-AC output stage inverter efficiency. Power inverter efficiency is determined by transistor switching losses. These losses appear in the system as generated heat. This heat must be dissipated across the entire inverter system to reduce the possibility of harm. This process further impacts efficiency of the power inverter system. Typically, higher switching frequencies enable better power inverter efficiency, which requires high-bandwidth current sensors. Allegro’s XtremeSense TMR current sensors achieve this feat without losing accuracy or resolution.

Resolution and accuracy are key parameters that enable highly efficient power conversion systems, Allegro’s XtremeSense TMR enables high resolution and accuracy without sacrificing bandwidth. Read our eBook to discover how to overcome the many challenges faced in designing for clean energy applications.

3. Durability and Reliability

Solar inverters are exposed to harsh environmental conditions, including temperature extremes, humidity, and potential electrical surges. Ensuring the durability and reliability of inverters over their lifespan is crucial to minimizing maintenance costs and downtime. A true testament to its durability in a remarkably compact design, XtremeSense TMR technology is used in the harshest environments, particularly in the automotive market. The innovations in XtremeSense TMR afford the sensors higher efficiency, meaning fewer power losses throughout operation. The sensors also retain high response time and thermal management capabilities in all conditions, from extreme heat to extreme cold and high vibration.  In addition, the systems are expected to operate for a long time. Like its ability to handle harsh conditions, XtremeSense TMR has demonstrated excellent performance over its lifetime, ensuring that it will have a long span of usage in the inverter system.

4. Cost Reduction

The cost of solar inverters is a significant factor in the overall cost of a solar energy system. Continued efforts to reduce the cost of inverters will contribute to making solar energy more economically viable. Allegro’s XtremeSense TMR solutions all achieve high bandwidth and high SNR limits, ensuring there is a cost-effective solution for any solar inverter system. The XtremeSense TMR family of products affords designers the ability to design without compromise between value and performance for their systems.

5. Storage Integration

The integration of energy storage systems, such as batteries, with solar inverters adds complexity, but is becoming increasingly important for achieving energy independence and reliability. Inverters must be designed to work seamlessly with storage systems. A critical part of energy storage systems is a battery management system (BMS). Components in the BMS must be capable of accurate current measurement, as it is essential to monitor and protect the delicate structures of the battery. XtremeSense TMR solutions are capable of both tasks, due to their high SNR and fast response time, respectively.

Addressing these challenges requires collaboration among industry stakeholders, including manufacturers, researchers, regulators, and policymakers, to foster innovation and create a resilient and efficient solar energy infrastructure.

Allegro MicroSystems’ XtremeSense TMR technology meets many of these challenges head-on. Tailored for clean energy applications, it is positioned to become the standard for innovation of the future, with features such as high bandwidth (1 MHz), overcurrent fault detection, and immunity to Common Mode Fields (CMFR: –54 dB). Allegro’s established Hall-based portfolio complements these newer TMR-based solutions to provide the ideal solution for designers looking to ensure safety, efficiency, and reliability for their applications as they face the increasing demands brought forth by the high-end, small-and- large-scale clean energy applications of today and tomorrow. For more details on how to optimize your systems using Allegro’s XtremeSense TMR technology, take a look at our recent whitepaper.