It is well known that conventional solar photovoltaic (PV) panels do not perform well in shade. The reason is not just that the obscured area receives less radiation, but because in string inverter systems the entire system can only operate at the power of the weakest panel. So even a partial shadow cast, say, by a tree branch or chimney, can have a dimming effect on all the panels in the string, which is typically controlled by a single inverter.
Solar panel systems in residential settings therefore require a considerable amount of planning, localisation and optimisation to function properly. There are other solutions, of course, including microinverters – whereby each solar panel has its own inverter – and power optimizers, but these systems are more expensive.
The ASMokos project – a collaboration between the Institute for Drive Systems and Power Electronics (IAL) at the Leibniz University of Hanover and the Institute for Solar Energy Research (ISFH) in Hamelin – aims to develop a shade tolerant and fool-proof solar module that will perform well wherever it is positioned. The key innovation is to integrate the inverter – the power electronics component that converts direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC) – and the module, so that the panel generates AC power directly.
The commercial concept is a unified and flexible PV system that can easily be installed not just on roofs but onto buildings, fences and balconies, regardless of orientation. It will also rule out the need for complicated, custom-designed systems. The German Federal Foundation for the Environment (DBU) is funding the project with around EUR 125,000.