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John O | April 2017

Outlining industry developments in cooling solar power inverters


Advanced Thermal Solutions, Inc. (ATS) recently released an outline of industry developments in the thermal management of solar power inverters that detailed the importance of optimizing thermal conditions as excessive heat can affect inverter performance and efficiency.

 

ats_solar_600

Thermal management of solar power inverters is critical for efficiency.
(Wikimedia Commons)

 

The article stated, “Most thermal management issues in solar power systems occur with their inverter systems. Here, the solar-generated DC power is converted to AC for power grids or local use. While these inverter systems can be very efficient, some excess heat must be managed so it doesn’t affect the inverter’s life or performance.”

 

The key to cooling solar power inverters is the high-powered IGBT (insulated-gate bipolar transistors) modules. These semiconductor devices produce a lot of heat and are critical to the performance of the inverter system.

 

Among the cooling solutions noted in the article are the outdoor central inverter by ABB that has a self-contained cooling system with phase-change material and thermosiphon technology. Other solutions, such as the utility scale inverters provided by Parker, use refrigerant as coolant on the critical components and others, such as solutions from TMEIC, use heat pipes as a hybrid-cooling solution.

 

The article concluded, “For systems operating in the megawatt output range, the inverters will require some level of thermal management to cool their IGBT systems. Many of these large inverter systems have custom cooling solutions that can differ from each other (e.g. air cooling vs. liquid cooling) but all methods have their origins in cooling electronics other than those found in the solar power industry.”

 

Read the full article at https://www.qats.com/cms/2016/11/21/industry-developments-cooling-solar-power-inverters

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