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Application of distributed DC/DC electronics in photovoltaic systems




Kabala, Michael, author
Collins, George, advisor
Sakurai, Hiroshi, committee member
Siegel, H. J., committee member
Young, Peter, committee member

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In a typical residential, commercial or utility grade photovoltaic (PV) system, PV modules are connected in series and in parallel to form an array that is connected to a standard DC/AC inverter, which is then connected directly to the grid. This type of standard installation; however, does very little to maximize the energy output of the solar array if certain conditions exist. These conditions could include age, temperature, irradiance and other factors that can cause mismatch between PV modules in an array that severely cripple the output power of the system. Since PV modules are typically connected in series to form a string, the output of the entire string is limited by the efficiency of the weakest module. With PV module efficiencies already relatively low, it is critical to extract the maximum power out of each module in order to make solar energy an economically viable competitor to oil and gas. Module level DC/DC electronics with maximum power point (MPP) tracking solves this issue by decoupling each module from the string in order for the module to operate independently of the geometry and complexity of the surrounding system. This allows each PV module to work at its maximum power point by transferring the maximum power the module is able to deliver directly to the load by either boosting (stepping up) the voltage or bucking (stepping down) the voltage. The goal of this thesis is to discuss the development of a per-module DC/DC converter in order to maximize the energy output of a PV module and reduce the overall cost of the system by increasing the energy harvest.


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