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National Semi Announces Photovoltaic Technology To Maximize Solar Energy Production

July 02, 2008 by Jeff Shepard

National Semiconductor Corp. announced that it has entered the photovoltaic market with new technology designed to increase the overall energy output of solar electric power generating systems. National’s SolarMagic™ technology is said to extract the maximum power efficiency of each photovoltaic panel, even when some panels in the array are compromised by shading, debris or inherent panel-to-panel mismatch.

According to the company, today’s solar installations are disproportionately impacted by non-uniformities, caused by shading, panel mismatches or dirt accumulation. For example, a small amount of shading in the array can cut the energy harvest of a system in half. It is claimed that this significantly limits the energy output, design and location of typical residential solar installations. Shading conditions can even invalidate local utility and governmental incentives, making certain installations cost-prohibitive. National’s SolarMagic technology is said to recoup up to 50% of the lost energy thereby minimizing the economic impact of shading and other real-world conditions.

"National’s entry into the photovoltaic market is a natural extension of our focus on energy efficient systems," said Brian L. Halla, National’s Chairman and CEO. "Our technologists solved this real-world problem and are enabling consumers to produce more energy under adverse conditions and reduce the payback time of their investment with an environmentally friendly source of power."

SolarMagic technology is described as a per-panel electronics solution that maximizes power output of multi-panel installations. It is compatible with today’s solar architectures regardless of the underlying solar cell technology. National has entered field trials with its SolarMagic technology. REgrid Power, Inc., one of the largest solar installers in California, has begun system testing of National’s SolarMagic technology.

"We are impressed with National’s SolarMagic technology in our field trials and have seen a significant performance improvement in our solar installation," said Tom McCalmont, President and CEO of REgrid Power, Inc. and founder and Executive Chairman of SolarTech, a Silicon Valley consortium. "We have observed energy output improvements of up to 44% during shaded conditions and 12% overall versus the same system running without SolarMagic technology."

Several additional solar companies are slated to join the field trials over the next several months, and National will expand field trials to include installers in other countries with high adoption rates of solar. Later this year, National plans to introduce SolarMagic products for solar installers and system providers to include in their installations.