eIQ Energy Launches Parallel Solar Technology For Solar Arrays

September 01, 2009 by Jeff Shepard

eIQ Energy Inc. has launched its new technology which it says will lower the installed cost and improve the performance of solar power systems, while also eliminating the design and installation constraints inherent in conventional string architectures.

eIQ Energy’s Parallux system is built around the vBoost dc-to-dc converter module. It uses advanced dc power management technology to allow easy connection of solar panels in parallel rather than in series. This approach is said to allow the connection of an unprecedented number of panels on a single cable. In the case of thin-film photovoltaic panels, the company’s Parallel Solar architecture enables the connection of over 100 solar panels on each cable run – said to be a twenty-fold improvement over conventional string architecture. This is said to result in significant installed-cost savings.

This breakthrough Parallel Solar technology also mitigates the effects of panel mismatch due to shading, soiling, and manufacturing variations, which can easily disrupt the performance of an entire string array. vBoost allows any solar panel to be connected in parallel to a constant high-voltage dc power bus, and also incorporates distributed maximum power point tracking (MPPT). The dc bus voltage can be fixed at the optimal level for any inverter, improving inverter efficiency and reliability. In combination with distributed MPPT, this enables solar photovoltaic systems to harvest 5 to 30 percent more energy than conventional systems. As a result, designers are free to focus their efforts on power production rather than component interaction. According to the company, simplified wiring, easy interconnection, unit level monitoring and reduced inverter expenses assure operators of long-term performance and lower costs throughout the system’s life cycle.

eIQ Energy’s Parallux system also includes panel-level monitoring for enhanced visibility into system operation. This helps streamline maintenance and ensure long-term system performance. Monitoring data is sent over the main power bus, so no separate cabling or wireless system is needed.

"Our team includes top dc power supply and power management engineers, and together they have developed a unique solution that addresses the inherent limitations of string architectures," said eIQ Energy CEO Oliver Janssen. "Parallel Solar simultaneously addresses fundamental problems facing plant designers, installers and operators, and provides quantifiable incremental performance without increasing cost. We are helping to unlock the full potential of solar energy with innovative thinking and unique technology that’s built for harsh operating environments."

eIQ Energy began operations in 2007. Its development and management teams include experts in dc power electronics and analog semiconductors with global experience in power supplies, power management and renewable energy. vBoost has been tested with a wide range of crystalline and thin-film solar panels at eIQ Energy’s San Jose test facility and at various ongoing beta site installations.

Funding through July of 2009 totals $10 million from NGEN Partners and Robert Bosch Venture Capital GmbH (RBVC). "eIQ Energy took a unique approach to resolving the technical and economic problems at various points of the design and installation of solar PV arrays. They have produced a solution that opens the door to better productivity for solar arrays in both commercial and residential installations," noted NGEN Managing Director Robert Koch.