Unicamp researchers create Brazilian converter for solar panels

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Researchers of the State University of Campinas (Unicamp) have developed an electronic power converter that allows the connection of solar panels to the Brazilian electric grid. Financed by the São Paulo Research Foundation (Fapesp), the pioneering prototype obtained 85% of efficiency, opening new perspectives for the use of solar energy in Brazil.
The tests were accomplished between December 2009 and January 2010 at the Hydrogen Laboratory (LH2) of the Gleb Wataghin Physics Institute (Unicamp), where there is already a connected pilot plant of alternative generators connected to CPFL grid.
The research has been accomplished by the PhD student Marcelo Villalva, directed by Prof. Ernesto Ruppert Filho, at the Electric Engineering and Computing Faculty (FEEC).
According to Ruppert, until now there's no news about any other similar electronic converter that would have been developed by a Brazilian company or research institute, successfully tested with an installation of solar panels with capacity of 7,5 kW.
"During the tests, the converter substituted the three monophase electronic converters acquired from the SMA German company, that are now linked the those solar panels", says Ruppert. Next step is to look for interested partners in industrializing this equipment.
Although the prototype has cost R$ 15000, Fapesp has invested R$ 70000 in the whole project. Ruppert esteems that in production scale the cost of the converter will cost no more than R$ 10000.
Villalva explains that all renewable sources need some type of electronic converter to use the electric power. There is a huge difficulty in obtaining equipments for photovoltaic panels, resulting in dependence on imported technology. "For that reason we decided to develop a national equipment", says Villalva.
In Brazil, the use of solar energy is still very limited. Panels are very expensive and face competition from other cheaper energy sources.
"It is necessary to have public politics in the sense of stimulate the use of those energies. Currently there are small projects in Brazil, still isolated. There is no mass use of alternative and clean energy, which is desirable because we have a lot of sun and wind", affirms Villava.

SP Notícias - Unicamp

Tags: solar, photovoltaic, PV, renewables, research, Unicamp, Brazilian converter