eIQ Energy emerges from stealth mode, enters solar system power optimization space


A new venture-funded player has come out of stealth mode and entered the increasingly crowded photovoltaic system power optimization space. San Jose-based eIQ Energy says its just-launched Parallux product and Parallel Solar technology will lower the installed cost and improve the energy output of solar systems, while eliminating the design and installation constraints found in conventional string architectures.

The hardware heart of Parallux is the vBoost DC-to-DC converter module (shown below), which the company says uses advanced DC power management technology to permit easy connection of solar panels in parallel rather than in series–allowing the connection of an unprecedented number of panels on a single cable.

In the case of thin-film panels, Parallel Solar facilitates the connection of more than 100 solar panels on each cable run—a twentyfold improvement over conventional string architecture.

Parallel Solar–which includes panel-level monitoring–also mitigates the effects of panel mismatch caused by shading, soiling, and manufacturing variations, which can disrupt the performance of an entire string array.

vBoost allows any solar panel to be connected in parallel to a constant high-voltage DC power bus and also incorporates distributed maximum power point tracking. The DC bus voltage can be fixed at the optimal level for any inverter and, along with the distributed MPPT, enables PV systems to harvest 5-30% more energy than conventional systems, the company says.
vBoost has been tested with a wide range of crystalline-silicon and thin-film panels at eIQ’s San Jose test facility and at several ongoing beta-site installations.

Formerly known as Sympagis, eIQ Energy began operations in 2007; its development and management teams include personnel with global experience in power supplies, power management, and renewable energy. The company has received funding of $10 million from NGEN Partners and Robert Bosch Venture Capital.

“Our team includes top DC power supply and power management engineers, and together they have developed a unique solution that addresses the inherent limitations of string architectures,” said eIQ CEO Oliver Janssen. “Parallel Solar simultaneously addresses fundamental problems facing plant designers, installers, and operators, and provides quantifiable incremental performance without increasing cost.”

Bosch’s Luis Llovera commented that “in addition to optimizing PV system and inverter performance, Parallux can reduce the cost of the entire balance-of-systems side of an array, including cabling, hardware, design, and labor. The result can give a positive impact on the solar PV ROI [return on investment] model.”

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