Usually, solar cells generate DC current. Turning it into AC, to use it normally in a household where most of the consumers are built to use electricity from the grid, which comes either at 220V or at 110V, in the US.
To solve the problem of expensive equipment associated with electricity conversion from DC to AC, a start-up company, GreenRay Solar studies the development of a solar panel able to generate AC current directly. The implementation of such a system would assume the user having several cheap, low power microinverters, instead of a high power, expensive one.
This microinverters architecture also brings benefits to controlling the solar panels better, even via the web. When used in DC, if one panel is shaded, the performance of all the other panels connected to it also drops, while in an AC architecture this doesn’t happen. Furthermore, it’s easier to gather data on the array’s performance if working in AC. That makes controlling the entire array a lot simpler.
Safety is also improved, because the microinverters use much less power on each cell, so installers wouldn’t have to worry about electric shocks (ok, maybe small ones). There is still one question I am not satisfied with: how much energy is lost by using this method, versus using one big, centralized inverter? Common sense and rapid mind calculations say this one may be more advantageous. Losses on AC lines are much lowered, and any big inverter has an efficiency limit, that if it’s reached, losses are higher than if you used several small power microinverters, like in this case.
Nice stuff! Let’s see it on the market!