While Ampt commercialized its technology years ago, the company recently partnered with other technology companies to increase the power output of solar installations and bring down costs.
Ampt teamed up with several power inverter manufacturers and formed the HDPV Alliance in September. Until then, Ampt had been marketing its technology to solar project developers. Working directly with the inverter manufacturers will add efficiency and bring costs down more, said Ampt CEO Levent Gun.
The Ampt technology, based in Colorado, makes solar power inverters more efficient and can double power output for each inverter in a project. “With our technology, we can harness more energy out of the same solar photovoltaic system,” Gun said.
The way it works has to do with how power from the solar panels is delivered to the inverter, he said.
“In a conventional system, the amount of power you get is dictated by how much sun shines on the panels,” Gun said. “And that can vary dramatically during the day, which creates problems for inverter designers.”
They have to build complex inverters that will handle constantly changing voltages. That makes inverters expensive, but it also makes them inefficient and demands so much of them that it can mean they burn out more quickly than they should.
Most inverters aren’t able to shift from processing 100 to 600 volts within a few second either, which means they lose out on collecting energy during times when there is a lot of variation. Ampt’s technology regulates the power coming off the solar panels so the inverter gets a consistent voltage, Gun said.
“Say the inverter can handle 600 volts,” Gun said. We make sure the inverter never sees lower than 600 volts. It’s a more stable operating environment for the inverter, a more regulated source of power.” And it can result in inverters converting twice the power they normally would.
But the efficiencies don’t stop there. Ampt’s system allows solar project designers to string more panels together, which means they require fewer strings, fewer cables and fewer junction boxes. All of that adds up to overall cost savings – another 40 to 50 percent on those applications, Gun said.
Gun said the company’s new partnerships and its new mission to work directly with inverter companies is a big growth opportunity for the company and a chance to bring system costs down all over the country.