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First TÜV-certified smart solar PV module to cut balance-of-system costs now available

In recent months, the race has been on within the solar PV industry to determine which "smart module" - incorporating performance-enhancing capabilities of onboard power electronics - will be the first to achieve certification across Europe and the US.

Today, solar PV module supplier Upsolar and Tigo Energy claimed victory. Tigo's optimisers will be embedded directly into Upsolar's modules during the production process, “lowering system operation and maintenance costs while boosting performance and safety”, the firms announced. The first smart modules certified by TÜV Rheinland PTL for Europe and North America, Upsolar’s products are now available for residential, commercial and utility-scale installations.

Tigo Energy’s optimisers “leverage proprietary impedance matching technology to increase the power harvest of each module and mitigate performance challenges related to soiling, cloud-induced shading, module mismatch and temperature differentials”. Optimisers also enable a reduction in balance of systems costs through increased string lengths, as well as enhanced safety and fire protection through arc fault protection, the company says. The product is suitable for both sloped and flat rooftops, as well as ground-mounted systems.

To create a smart module, optimisers are embedded into Upsolar modules’ junction boxes during the module manufacturing process. By integrating the two units, Upsolar can offer its customers seamless installation and lower operation and maintenance costs while enhancing overall system performance. Additionally, users can remotely monitor performance at the module and system levels through Tigo Energy’s module-level monitoring software and mobile app.

Upsolar and Tigo Energy collaborated earlier this year with Talmage Solar Engineering on a 2.2MW solar array in Sharon, VT, USA featuring retrofitted optimisers. “The performance of Tigo Energy’s optimiser has exceeded our expectations, and we were eager to incorporate the company’s technology directly into our modules to improve the performance and economics of solar for both installers and customers,” said Stephane Dufrenne, Chief Technology Officer of Upsolar.

“We’ve already seen strong demand for the integrated product across major markets and expect this trend to continue as we pave the way to cost-neutral installations for PV systems of all sizes and designs with module-level power electronics.”

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Photovoltaics (PV)  •  Solar electricity