Project Name: A Reliable, Cost-Effective Transformerless Medium-Voltage Inverter for Grid Integration of Combined Solar and Energy Storage
Funding Opportunity: Advanced Power Electronics Designs for Solar Applications
SETO Subprogram: Systems Integration
Location: Fayetteville, AR
SETO Award Amount: $2.8 million
Awardee Cost Share: $715,000
This project team will build a high-density silicon carbide (SiC) central inverter prototype to improve the reliability of photovoltaic (PV) plants and reduce lifetime costs. It will also create an optimization tool for the low-cost, electro-thermal design of a wide-bandgap power electronics system. The bandgap is a measure of energy that signifies the distance between an electron’s starting point and the point it has to move to in order to conduct electricity. The inverter and optimization tool will inform future designs and applications for wide-bandgap power electronics.
The project team will design a holistic power electronics system that has SiC power modules, novel multilevel inverter circuits, high-frequency transformers, switching sequence-based control, and electro-thermal management methods. The low-cost system will be able to convert direct-current output from PV and energy storage systems to alternating current for medium-voltage distribution systems without using transformers. It will be designed for high power density, high efficiency, and long system life. To characterize the quantifiable metrics, the team will evaluate the prototype’s performance at the University of Arkansas National Center for Reliable Electric Power Transmission.
This inverter system will deliver enhanced capabilities and lower system costs to ensure reliable, secure integration of solar generation onto the electric grid while reducing the cost of energy for the consumer. It will also inform future designs for applications, such as transportation, other grid-connected converters, and data centers.