SolarEdge Is Planning a Revolution — PV Systems To Become More Efficient


GE just invested in them. Now, Guy Sella, founder and CEO of Israeli company SolarEdge, is planning a revolution. Don’t be alarmed though, this one isn’t dangerous. His goal is to transform the way photovoltaic systems are now operated, in terms of efficiency, safety and cost.

“People haven’t been looking at photovoltaic systems from a holistic point of view,” Sella tells ISRAEL21c. “Panel manufacturers care only about the panels and panel conversion efficiency. The people that develop classical inverters only care about the efficiency of the inverter. I asked: can we create a system that is better than we currently have?”

The answer, according to SolarEdge, is yes. The Herzliya-based has created “intelligent panels” that work together with a central Power Box, which would replace the passive panels that are the current norm. These new panels provide 25 percent more energy as well as solutions to some of the serious problems that plague current systems.

No feedback, no function

Today’s photovoltaic systems have a number of major disadvantages, according to Sella. For instance, there is no feedback from individual panels. If a panel is broken or not functioning properly, there is no monitoring system to detect the problem.

“In fields today you have hundreds of thousands of panels,” says Sella. “Even if some of them are not working, they don’t have any monitoring level, so you as the field owner can’t know if they are working. After a big hailstorm, people habitually walk through the field with a notebook, visually checking each panel and writing down its condition.”

Another problem with having no monitoring system is that people can easily steal the panels, which are worth between $600 to $800 each. These antediluvian conditions would be abolished by SolarEdge’s technology.

Turning passive panels into intelligent devices

In current systems, all the panels in a photovoltaic system are connected to an inverter box, which in turn connects the system to the power grid. SolarEdge, however, has taken all the technology in the inverter box and put it into an electronic chip, or ASIC.

Each photovoltaic panel contains its own ASIC chip, turning each panel into an electronic device that can alert the owner both to its functionality and possible theft. The system will also be connected to the internet, so the owner can go online to check the status of each panel.

These intelligent panels also provide more energy than current photovoltaic panels. “The panel can now optimize its energy output, and can verify that it is converting the maximum energy that it has,” explains Sella.

An additional advantage is that the very different voltage system created by this technology is much safer, says Sella. Current systems use thousands of volts in their DC lines, and are impossible to turn off, a serious hazard in cases of fire. The inability to shut off powerful voltages also makes these systems potentially dangerous to install.

With the SolarEdge system, the panel-embedded electronics can be shut down individually, either through the central power box or via the panel itself.

An excellent rate of growth

Confidence in SolarEdge is high. Founded in 2006, by Sella and co-founders Yoav Galin, Lior Handelsman, Meir Adest and Amir Fishelov, who met in an elite technology unit of the Israel Defense Forces, the 70-member company has raised $23 million in the past year, despite the poor economic climate.

It plans to start shipping products from mass production lines in Israel late this month.

“SolarEdge has partners all over the globe – in the US, Germany, Spain, France, and Japan,” explains Sella. “Through our partners we have access to 40-50 percent of the world market, which is basically wherever there is solar energy.”

This market is in the range of $30-40 billion; and Sella estimates that the worth of his own product is somewhere in the region of $3 billion.

Not surprisingly then, Sella is optimistic about the solar energy market even in the current recession. “The growth rate of the solar energy market makes it interesting. I’m not aware of any market since bubble days that has had this level of growth rate,” he says.

Eventually, Sella predicts, “Solar energy will be cheaper than fuel cells, and energy harvested from photovoltaics will either be cheaper or the same as fossil fuels.”

Article by Ilana Teitelbaum appearing courtesy of Green Prophet; first published on ISRAEL21c



Have any Question or Comment?

8 comments on “SolarEdge Is Planning a Revolution — PV Systems To Become More Efficient

solarreferee

More hot air from the middle east!

Rachel Fish

Yeah … Im sceptical to say the least. I want to see it working and have there claims verified by an independent third party.

Till then … like you said its all hot air

Rajindra

Sounds great. Each % of efficiency improvement help. Count of the Israeli’s for smartest moves. Looking forward to more data sheets and installation data so that the systems can be deployed in our windfarms planned in India

regards

rajindra

MD, ‘ECHO GREEN VISION’

jamie Horan

Status monitoring systems have been deployed rather ubiquitisly in the communications arena. The idea is not new. The application to solar farms is a logical extension of a basic LEAN prinicpal and this chip seems to be one step closer to the source than say, a micro inverter. It is true that efficiency can be improved by the reduction of innefficiency, in this case, downtime. The article is not specific as the the deployment costs, but the ability to quickly isolate on a particluar panel in a field of many is a good thing. Addtionally, the idea that one could remotely deactivate portions of an array is also one with some benefits for system maintenance and the optimization of incremental output loss.

Regards,

Jamie

The problem is of storage of electric energy(bateries or similar devices).

When this will be able of storage 10 times more energy we will forget the oil.

3 sqm of solar photovoltaic panel is more than sufficient for as normal house .

This is the main problem.

The first 5 world compagnies are in oil field ant this will do anithing to avoid this.

The article is proper and profesional !

Photovoltaics could see a boost in April 2010 as the Government here in the UK introduces a feed-in tariff.

SolarUK has already seen plenty of interest in its LaZer2 solar hot water system despite the difficult economic situation. This is because solar is becoming more cost effective in the face of rising oil and gas prices in an unstable global market.

Homeowners with photovoltaics installed will receive a fixed, guaranteed price for their energy from the utility companies, though some are claiming that the tariff has been set too low.

Ian

Hey Team,

So my only concern with the solution Solar Edge is putting out is that they are planning on dethroning the established Inverter players.. arguably the component that developers and installers are most ‘wed’ to.

The benefit of their huge investment is that balance sheet and longevity (think GE) is what installers are going to be looking for as they evaluate warranties.

Solar Edge’s system is better and equally priced – if you use their simplified inverter (that doesn’t have to deal with extreme voltage variation). I think that the future is going to go towards this… parallel systems (Solar Edge is a series solution) that boost voltage and offer MPPT make for simpler inverters with less complexity. Unlike Solar Edge, EIQ, Tigo Energy and Accurate Solar offer the same system while keeping inverter companies, which developers trust, happy and engaged in their growth.

This is basically the same idea as a microinverter. Enphase has been leading this market for a while now, and though slightly more expensive that the standard inverter systems, it is usually beneficial for a systems overall kWh production.

As for current panel efficiency (output per area): here’s a good solar panel comparison chart.

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