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The Solution to Solar’s ‘Christmas Lights’ Problem

published: 2011-02-15 14:44

Anyone who’s ever strung up lights for the holidays knows that frustrating feeling — one bulb goes out and suddenly the whole line goes dark. In recent years, Christmas lights have gotten smarter to eliminate the “single bad bulb” syndrome. Now the same idea is being applied to solar panel efficiency with technology from SolarEdge.

Typically, attempts to optimize the output of solar panels have focused on the system as a whole. Israel-based SolarEdge, however, has developed devices that create individual “intelligent” panels. The result is that retrofitted panels strung together can yield up to 25 percent more energy from every solar installation — and a single panel that’s less efficient won’t mean a massive amount of lost energy.

As part of the ongoing ecomagination CEO Series, Guy Sella, CEO of SolarEdge Technologies, explains how the technology works in the video below. GE Energy Financial Services is a venture capital investor in the company, which is also working with scientists at GE Global Research.

As Sella explains about current technologies, “When an array is perfect and everything is fully symmetric, each panel will be close to its original optimal point. The problem is that not all panels are equal … and even more critical, in actual installations you will have some shade, some dirt, some leaves that fall from the trees. The result of all this can be that some of the panels won’t be in their optimal point and will have a negative influence on the rest of the ok panels on the same string.” Just like on a Christmas light string.

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