STMicroelectronics Reclaims Lost Solar Energy with Intelligent Hotspot Prevention



STMicroelectronics has announced an innovation for solar panels aimed at allowing more of the energy from each cell to reach the power grid. The innovation replaces the simple bypass diode with an intelligent device that enhances efficiency and offers the same package outline. The new device can deliver a fast Return-On-Investment, in terms of releasing additional energy for solar panel applications. ST's new SPV1001 contains a low-loss power switch and a precision controller. Directly replacing bypass diodes, which are used to prevent hotspot effects, the SPV1001 protects the energy normally lost in each diode. Compared to the use of diodes, the integrated power switch provides negligible leakage current when the photovoltaic (PV) panel is producing energy. ST's BCD6 chip fabrication process provides the key to this advance by integrating highly efficient power components with logic control circuitry. "The SPV1001 solves an important challenge for the solar industry today," said Pietro Menniti, General Manager of ST's Industrial and Power Conversion Division. "High-efficiency solar cells that produce increased output current demand improvements in the supporting power electronics. ST's expertise in energy conversion, together with the use of advanced technologies in the SPV1001 such as the BCD process, provides a solid foundation upon which customers can move solar-generated energy to the next price-performance level." In addition to package options enabling one-for-one replacement of bypass diodes in the solar panel's junction box, the SPV1001 is available in an MLPD package that can be laminated directly into the panel, due to the device's ultra-low-profile and minimal power losses. This will simplify electronic design and assembly while also boosting system reliability. Major features of the SPV1001:

  • BCD6 and EHD5 power MOSFET processes:
    • Low conduction losses when operating in bypass mode
    • Low leakage current minimizes losses in bypass stand-by mode
    • High robustness to surge and lightning currents
    • Integration of power and control functions
    • TO-220 or D2PAK packages, pin- and outline-compatible with existing bypass diodes
    • Optional ultra-low-profile Power MLPD package for in-panel assembly The SPV1001 is in production now in the industry-standard TO-220 and ultra low-profile MLPD packages. Projected pricing is approximately $3.00 for a minimum order of 1000 units, depending on the package version. Alternative pricing options are available for larger quantities.