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Delta and San Jose State University Develop Micro PV Converter

June 10, 2020
Prototype power converter for PV panels captures 30% more energy in shade.

Delta, a global provider of power and thermal management solutions, recently announced its collaboration with Silicon Valley-based San Jose State University (SJSU) to advance renewable energy research and talent. The project underscores Delta's corporate social responsibility (CSR) commitment to partner with universities and institutions in the United States to nurture talent capable of developing next-generation renewable energy technologies. Through the SJSU project, researchers who received funding from Delta developed a prototype power converter for photovoltaic (PV) panels that captures over 30% more energy than conventional technologies.

The project met several milestones, including the production of a demonstration-scale micro-integrated converter that uses magnetically coupled architecture to reduce the size, weight, and cost of each converter. In the prototype, each micro-integrated converter was paired with an individual PV panel that was part of a larger string. By structuring the system in this fashion, each converter was able to maximize the energy output of its panel by processing only a fraction of its generated power. Consequently, the overall system efficiency increased significantly. Results showed that captured energy spiked by more than 30% in shaded environments.

"Collaborating with renowned research institutions like the SJSU is critical for our industry to unlock further synergies in advancing energy-efficient technologies for a more sustainable future," said President Kelvin Huang of Delta Electronics (Americas). "Delta's expertise in developing solar PV inverters with efficiencies as high as 99.2% and in integrating smart green solutions has been instrumental in furthering the project. This initiative also reflects Delta's focus on CSR, which entails cultivating long-lasting partnerships with key stakeholders for further sustainable development."

"The overarching purpose is to develop new PV configurations that can extract as much energy as possible, while using low-cost interfacing systems to convert the harvested energy to usable levels," said Dr. Mohamed Badawy, assistant professor of electrical engineering at the SJSU who led the project. "We are extremely grateful to Delta for providing the funding and the technical expertise to make this project a success."

Badawy has been keeping an eye on the project's effect on his students. Two students on this project just received their master's degrees and two more students are planning to pursue this project as their master's research topic. "The students worked on a practical problem under real pressure to deliver," he said. "They were always presenting their work during the SJSU-Delta meetings, which helped develop their professional skills. They also learned how to build partnerships, which is an important career skill."

"This experience has proved extremely rewarding for our staff, as we bridge the gap between industry and academia," said Peter Barbosa, director of Delta's Milan M. Jovanovic Power Electronics Lab in Raleigh, North Carolina. "The fresh perspectives we gained are invaluable as we solve some of the energy industry’s biggest challenges."

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