Aussie SME and researchers work on next-generation solar photovoltaic inverter

ADVANCED Manufacturing CRC has announced a new project in the solar energy sector in a joint venture between MIL Systems and RMIT University.

The project will produce a next-generation solar photovoltaic (PV) inverter, which will provide reactive power support to improve the quality of grid power.

The to smart grid capabilities include wireless communication interfaces to both consumers and the grid.

According to the Advanced Manufacturing CRC, MIL-Systems is a industry champion of reactive power control inverter research, development, and commercialisation. RMIT’s role will be to provide the theoretical research underpinnings for the project and guide it through the development progress.

The technology development will allow electrical grids to operate with large amounts of renewable generation contributing to it, and allow Australia’s environmental electronics sector to compete on a global stage, hopefully commercialising local research to compete with large international companies.

MIL-Systems will work with Prof Grahame Holmes, who is a leading researcher in power electronics. The AMCRC says there is significant intellectual property opportunity in the project.

The project has already been granted $646,900 funding from the Victorian Government Department of Primary Industries through its Energy Technology Innovation Strategy (ETIS) Sustainable Energy Research & Development (SERD2) grant program.

The AMCRC co-investment in the project will enhance the breadth of the SERD2 development and provide a pathway for commercialisation.

Project Stages

Stage 1

RMIT’s Power & Energy researchers will develop reactive power control algorithms for a next generation inverter, including wireless control and communications to the user and the smart grid.

These algorithms will maximize the solar PV renewable energy that can be fed into to grid and improve the quality of the grid voltage, to better meet the goals of the consumer and the community.

Stage 2

MIL-Systems will develop the prototype inverter electronic hardware, incorporating theses reactive power control algorithms. The result will be a baseline inverter that can be readily and rapidly commercialised to test and trial the market for early feedback.

Stage 3

Industrial design, performance testing and accelerated life testing will be conducted by RMIT to verify the design. The results will be fed-back into design refinement, industrialisation and commercialisation by MIL-Systems.

MIL-Systems will undertake production engineering and tooling ready for manufacture, sale and widespread distribution of the new Reactive Power Control Inverter throughout Australia.