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ST’s new cool bypass devices unlock extra solar energy and cost savings

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Leading global semiconductors manufacturer, ST Microelectronics introduces its latest-generation high-efficiency cool bypass switches for solar power applications.

ST’s cool bypass devices minimise internal energy losses to route high-quality, high-efficiency solar energy.

Designed for direct integration into photovoltaic modules to reduce installation complexity and cost for consumers, the cool bypass devices enable an even higher percentage of harvested energy to reach end users, further reducing the cost per watt of renewable energy.

ST’s cool bypass devices combine efficient power switching and intelligent control in a single chip to compensate for the variable effects of hotspots and shadows on the solar panel surface. The new devices can save up to 1% of the energy produced and normally lost through conventional bypass diodes. In terms of potential savings, this loss in a 1MWp solar array farm is equivalent to the total annual electricity consumption of two average European households.

The cool bypass devices feature new technology and control techniques that minimise energy losses in all operating modes by ensuring the integrated power switch has ultra-low leakage current when turned off and very low voltage drop when turned on.

According to Matteo LoPresti, General Manager of ST’s Industrial and Power Conversion Division, as installed photovoltaic capacity continues to rise, efficient and cost-effective power solutions such as these cool bypass switches will make an increasingly significant contribution to saving energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Key features and benefits of ST’s cool bypass devices:

  • Can guarantee higher current in forward mode and wider voltage range in reverse polarity (up to 120V)
  • Reduced power losses further lower typical operating temperature, leading to increased reliability and longer lifetime
  • Helps extend lifespan of solar installations up to 25 years or more
  • Extremely small 5 x 6 x 0.75mm-high PQFN package
  • Small size enables the bypass circuitry to be laminated on the back of each solar panel
  • Simplified design and installation can reduce the cost of each panel by around 5%
ST’s family of cool bypass devices

The SPV1512 and SPV1520 are rated for operation up to 12V and 20V respectively. The remaining devices in the family, the 40V SPV1540, 60V SPV1560, 80V SPV1580 and 120V SPV1500, will be introduced in late 2012 and early 2013 in industry-standard D2PAK and TO-220AC packages.

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