Engineering 101

Cree SiC Technology Enables the Quantum Reduction of Solar Power Inverter Size, Weight, and Cost

Cree, Inc. (Nasdaq: CREE), a market leader in silicon carbide (SiC) power products, has demonstrated that its best-in-class SiC MOSFET and diode technologies enable previously unattainable levels of power density in string solar inverter products, yielding ultra-high efficiencies (greater than 99.1 percent at peak) at one-fifth the average size and weight of today’s silicon-based inverter units.

Historically, efficiency, reliability, and unit cost have been the three primary metrics that designers of string solar inverters have sought to optimize. In recent years, however, size and weight have proven to significantly affect overall system cost, and have subsequently been added to designer’s list of essential design metrics.

Using the latest Cree® power MOSFETs and diodes, Cree’s systems engineering team designed a proof-of-concept 50kW string solar inverter that exhibits a remarkable 50 percent reduction in power loss and operates at three to five times the switching frequency that conventional silicon technology can currently achieve. The combination of these two factors drastically reduces both the size and weight of the inverter’s cooling system, as well as its filtering components, which translates into a unit-cost reduction approaching 15 percent.

This application will be on display at the Cree booth (#1417) at this year’s Applied Power Electronics Conference (APEC), which will take place in Charlotte, N.C., March 16–18, 2015, and is a great example of how Cree SiC power products enable smaller, faster, and better power system solutions. Additional applications that have been proven to benefit from Cree SiC technology include: industrial power supplies, induction heating units, battery charging stations, wind turbine converters, and traction inverters, amongst others.

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