SolarBridge Technologies is collaborating with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to develop an innovative solution to make rooftop photovoltaic (PV) systems easier to install and more affordable for businesses and homeowners.

"This is a tough investment market, but with more risk, you get more rewards," says SolarBridge CTO Patrick Chapman. "We were already in the market, but the SunShot award helped us win new accounts and accelerate the technology. It has allowed us to try new ideas."

These new ideas include cutting the costs involved with integrating solar panels with inverters. Solar panels create direct current (DC) from sunlight. However, PV systems require an inverter to convert DC into grid-friendly alternating current (AC). SolarBridge will partner with a U.S.-based PV module manufacturer to provide a cost-reduced AC module with a preinstalled microinverter, eliminating the need to install separate components.

Under the SunShot/SEGIS-AC award, SolarBridge is working diligently to reduce system costs and enable more rapid adoption of easy-to-install, highly reliable solar. To this end, the award also supports the production of a universal PV dock that allows various power converters, including the new microinverter, to easily dock to any PV module. The resulting system minimizes time on the roof for installers and, therefore, reduces the overall installation cost.

This project is funded by the SEGIS-AC program under the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative.

The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) success stories highlight the positive impact of its work with businesses, industry partners, universities, research labs, and other entities.