The objective is to research a new generation of grid-connected PV (photovoltaic) inverters to achieve high efficiency and MHz operation through a collaborative university-industry project. The approach is to apply wide band-gap power semiconductors in transformerless, cascaded, modular DC-AC inverters. We will develop an advanced control strategy that is capable of system-level fault monitoring and detection to maximize the PV output power, achieve reactive power compensation and to reduce the ground leakage current.
Intellectual Merits: This research leverages the recent technological advances in GaN power switching devices and looks beyond the conventional single DC bus inverter topology. The buck-boost function and shoot-through capability of the Z-source network in the proposed modular dc-ac inverter can enable the inverter to obtain high efficiency, high performance and high reliability operation at MHz system output switching frequencies. The proposed research offers opportunities to discover and invent new concepts in emerging power semiconductor devices and advanced converter topology/control in grid-connected PV systems.
Broader Impact: The proposed research will have a significant impact on PV inverter manufacturers by providing novel electronic power converters with increased conversion efficiency and increased reliability. Furthermore, this research will also impact the power semiconductor industry by addressing the cross-disciplinary challenges of the new generation of PV inverters. The research will be integrated into the power courses at FAMU-FSU College of Engineering to meet an increasing workforce and technology needs. Other education plans are to include student internships at the partner company, involve female and minority students in the research, provide outreach to high school students, and stimulate academia-industry interactions.