SolarWorld, the largest U.S. crystalline-silicon solar manufacturer, and Enphase Energy Inc., a global energy technology company, have agreed to jointly develop a new generation of AC solar modules (ACM) for the worldwide market. The companies will collaborate on development, commercialization and marketing of an AC solar module that will integrate SolarWorld’s high-performance Sunmodule solar panels with Enphase’s leading microinverter technology.
The joint SolarWorld-Enphase initiative builds on a global strategic partnership between the two solar industry leaders. Enphase is SolarWorld’s exclusive supplier of microinverter systems for the vertically integrated solar panel manufacturer’s custom-engineered solar systems. The AC solar module initiative will eliminate the need to install a centralized string inverter. It is another example of the companies’ close collaboration in solar and clean-energy technology development.
“Past attempts at AC modules, essentially power-electronic units bolted onto modules, have not delivered the full value that such an innovation should provide,” said Ardes Johnson, U.S. vice president of sales and marketing for SolarWorld. “With Enphase, we are developing a highly integrated module built in automated, high-reliability factory conditions that only SolarWorld can deliver. This AC solar module will not only save time and cost in labor and logistics in installation, but it also will be designed in a way that will still allow for streamlined operations and maintenance in the field.”
SolarWorld recentlyramped up production of five-bus-bar, high-efficiency, passivated-emitter rear contact (PERC) solar cells in its Hillsboro factory. SolarWorld has also aligned itself with the adoption of rail-free racking systems, which offer lower material costs, reduce installation time, occupy a much smaller warehouse footprint and cost significantly less to ship than the long rails traditionally used in solar system mounting.
“There has been significant growth in demand from large solar distributors, installers and fleet owners for a reliable, cost-effective and high-performance AC module product,” said Stefan Zschiegner, vice president of products for Enphase Energy. “The ACM pairing of Enphase’s next-generation S-series microinverters with SolarWorld’s Sunmodules will address this demand by reducing capital and labor costs as well as simplifying the supply chain and logistics. In the future, ACM architecture shall enable a seamless integration with Enphase’s Energy Management System.”
Enphase’s advanced, smart-grid-ready Enphase S-Series Microinverter is designed to meet current and future requirements for distributed solar on utility networks. The S-series Microinverter is part of the Enphase Energy Management System, which integrates solar energy generation, storage and load-management capabilities for the connected home as well as supports local utilities with advanced grid functions.
Initial U.S. shipments of the SolarWorld AC solar modules are expected to begin in late 2016.
ST Staff Writers
This post was prepared by Solar Thermal Magazine staff.