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Solarnative uses EPC GaN in tiny inverter

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1.6 kW per litre microinverter enables module frame integration to solve the challenges of solar power installation

German start-up Solarnative is using EPC GaN devices in its new Power Stick microinverter to achieve industry-best power density. The Power Stick is thought to be the smallest inverter in the world, with dimensions of 23.9 by 23.2 by 404 mm.

The use of GaN devices allows a switching frequency of up to 2MHz, providing a simultaneous reduction in inductive components and volume.

With an AC output power of 350 W, the Power Stick's volume of 0.19 litres corresponds to a power density of 1.6 kW per litre. By comparison, the IQ 7A microinverter from a market leading supplier delivers 349 watts with a volume of 1.12 litres, corresponding to 0.31 kW per litre – not even one-fifth of the Solarnative device. Despite the extreme size reduction, the efficiencies are comparable, at 96.0 percent for the Power Stick and 96.5 percent for the IQ 7A.

This extreme reduction in construction volume was necessary because Solarnative wants to offer its inverter not only as an external device (Power Stick 350-a) but also as a version for module manufacturers (Power Stick 350-i) for integration into the module frame. The Power Stick is recommended for modules between 330 and 440 W.

“Each microinverter must be installed adjacent to a panel, usually on a roof. This makes them harder to install, remove and replace. Manufacturers can now address these issues using panels with these built-in microinverters,” said Henk Oldenkamp, Solarnative co-founder. “The Power Stick is the market-ready result of years of development. With the EPC devices inside our modules, we can increase power density significantly, up to 5 times the power density of state-of-art microinverters.”

“Solar applications are putting higher demands on power devices for thermal, reliability, and power density, and silicon-based power conversion is not keeping pace,” said Alex Lidow, CEO of EPC. “We are delighted to work with Solarnative to implement GaN as 3rd generation of semiconductors into their microinverters, allowing customers to simplify installation for easier microinverters and green energy adoptions.”

Founded in 2019, Solarnative currently employs 12 people at two locations. In Hofheim am Taunus, Germany, the company is currently setting up their own production facility aimed to become a Smart Gigafactory with an annual capacity of 3M inverters within the next years.

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