Soft-switching gate driver slashes solar inverter costs

30th October 2019
Alex Lynn

Pre-Switch has announced that its soft-switching IGBT and silicon carbide gate driver architecture, including the Pre-Drive3 controller board, powered by the Pre-Flex FPGA, and RPG gate driver board, can reduce the cost of solar inverters. The two-stage architecture delivers the same switching loss performance as a five-level design, resulting in reduced cost, control complexity and BOM count. 

Also, Pre-Switch enables the simplification and size reduction of inverters and filters used in renewable energy systems, enabling energy to be put back into the grid easily and efficiently.

The Pre-Switch soft-switching platform enables a doubling of power output for a typical inverter, or an increase in switching speed by a factor of up to 20 times. Previously, soft-switching has never been successfully-implemented for DC/AC systems with varying input voltage, temperature and load conditions. 

However, Pre-Switch has overcome the challenges by using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to constantly-adjust the relative timing of elements within the switching system required to force a resonance to offset the current and voltage wave forms – thereby minimising switching losses. 

Pre-Switch CEO, Bruce T. Renouard, said: “Our benefit for solar energy system designers is that our soft-switching architecture eliminates half of the system losses. So we are able to achieve performance levels with a simple two stage design that would require five stages using conventional multi-level techniques.

“The architecture also allows the grid tie filter size to be reduced by up to 66.67% for IGBT systems and by up to 80% for SiC MOSFETs. That is a huge advantage, not only in system size but also materials and shipping cost savings.”

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