National Semiconductor and Suntech collaborate on ‘Smart Panel’ technology

Multi-year relationship moves to development phase to create solar arrays with increased efficiency.

National Semiconductor and Suntech Power Holdings will develop “smart panel” technology, incorporating National Semiconductor’s SolarMagic power optimizer chipset into Suntech solar panels to improve the power output of solar systems.

This announcement follows an announcement in May of 2009 in which the companies announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for Suntech to evaluate National Semiconductor’s SolarMagic technology with the intention of jointly promoting the technology and developing future solutions. Suntech has completed its evaluation and the two companies have advanced to the development phase.

National says that its SolarMagic power optimiser chipset enables each solar module to produce the maximum energy regardless of whether other panels in the array are under-performing due to environmental mismatch. The technology enhances the energy harvest of each individual PV panel through a combination of advanced algorithms and leading-edge analog power management circuit techniques.

In real-world tests involving shading and mismatch, Suntech modules with SolarMagic power optimiser technology were shown to recoup an average of 50% of lost energy, and in some cases captured as much as 75% of otherwise lost energy compared to standard panel performance.

Suntech recently utilised SolarMagic power optimisers with its panels on the eco-friendly Suntech Guosheng, a solar energy-powered water vessel ferrying passengers at the Shanghai World Expo.

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Energy infrastructure  •  Photovoltaics (PV)  •  Solar electricity