National Semiconductor enters PV market

July 15, 2008
SANTA CLARA, CA—It isn’t surprising that a host of both new and established companies are entering the solar photovoltaics (PV) industry, considering that market analysis companies such as BCC Research (Wellesley, MA) forecasts that the global PV market is projected to be worth $32.3 billion by 2012—a compound average annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14.9%.

SANTA CLARA, CA—It isn’t surprising that a host of both new and established companies are entering the solar photovoltaics (PV) industry, considering that market analysis companies such as BCC Research (Wellesley, MA) forecasts that the global PV market is projected to be worth $32.3 billion by 2012—a compound average annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14.9%. The newest entrant into the lucrative PV market is semiconductor manufacturer National Semiconductor, describing how their new technology is designed to increase the overall energy output of solar-electric power generating systems. National’s SolarMagic technology extracts the maximum power efficiency of each PV panel (regardless of whether it is silicon or organic-based), even when some panels in the array are compromised by shading, debris, or inherent panel-to-panel mismatch.

These non-uniformities in illumination can cut the energy harvest of a solar-panel system in half, significantly limiting the energy output, design, and location of typical residential solar installations. Shading conditions can even invalidate local utility and governmental incentives, making certain installations cost-prohibitive. National’s SolarMagic technology recoups up to 50% of the lost energy and minimizes the impact of shading and other real-world conditions by using distributed electronics agnostic to the underlying cell technology to maximize the energy harvest. “National’s entry into the photovoltaic market is a natural extension of our focus on energy efficient systems,” said Brian L. Halla, National’s chairman and CEO. “Our technologists solved this real-world problem and are enabling consumers to produce more energy under adverse conditions and reduce the payback time of their investment with an environmentally friendly source of power.”

REgrid Power, one of the largest solar installers in California, has begun field trials and system testing of National’s SolarMagic technology. Tom McCalmont, president and CEO of REgrid Power and founder and executive chairman of SolarTech, a Silicon Valley consortium, said, “We have observed energy output improvements of up to 44% during shaded conditions and 12% overall versus the same system running without SolarMagic technology.” Several additional solar companies are slated to join the field trials over the next several months, and National will expand field trials to include installers in other countries with high adoption rates of solar. Later this year, National plans to introduce SolarMagic products for solar installers and system providers to include in their installations.

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