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Next generation of solar

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  • 1. Smart Modules: The Next Generation of Solar As the price of PV continues to drop, solar energy becomes an attainable reality for more and more homeowners, businesses and investors. However, despite compelling economics, some potential buyers are ineligible for solar due to insufficient space or too much shading. Enter smart modules: featuring embedded intelligence, these modules increase system flexibility, so buildings once considered inhospitable to solar can now accommodate a high-performing system. Smart modules also raise performance, increase monitoring capabilities and reduce safety risks. In short, smart modules are proving to be the next generation of solar. Traditional solar electric systems feature multiple PV modules connected to a central inverter. These modules are connected in series circuits, meaning the system will instinctively lower its output level to that of the worst performing module. Smart modules integrate high performance monocrystalline or polycrystalline cells with intelli- gent technologies such as the current-bypass technology of power optimizers. With this addi- tional layer of power electronics in place, smart modules enable the design of systems in configurations not previously possible—multiple module tilts, various orientations, etc.— elimi- nating the negative effects of shading. Additionally, because the module and smart technolo- gies are shipped as one unit, installers benefit from shorter installation times. Smart modules are rapidly building momentum in the solar industry today, offered through some of the top technology providers. In fact, Upsolar recently introduced a smart module certi- fied for use in the EU, North America and Australia. Utilizing Tigo Energy’s power optimizers, these smart modules offer up to 25 percent more power density and improved part counts, in addition to enhanced performance, flexibility, monitoring and safety. Power-optimizers, such as Tigo Energy’s Smart Module technology, work in tandem with a central inverter to increase output through maximum power point tracking (MPPT). This allows each module to achieve higher yield. Introducing Smart Modules
  • 2. • Ideal for commercial and utility scale projects • Module-level MPPT & monitoring • Up to 25% more power density/efficiency • Reduced O&M and commissioning costs • Arc, fire and safety hazard mitigation • High quality bill of materials • Up to 30% longer strings • Performance stability without PID losses • Lower BOS and labor costs • Design flexibility • Increased energy harvest & system uptime • High efficiency mono/polycrystalline for proven ROI cell technology Upsolar Module TigoEnergy (mono- orpolycrystalline) SmartModuleTechnology When the average person thinks of a solar electric system, they likely envision a series of panels up on the roof converting sunlight into useable energy. How the system works—and how well it’s working—is largely a mystery. Most system owners and operators have limited visibility into performance, and almost zero ability to interact with their PV technology. For operators over- seeing hundreds of systems, this means any performance issue requires the organization to bring an expert on-site for a preliminary examination, and then schedule a second visit to prop- erly address the problem at hand. Each smart module is equipped with real-time monitoring capabilities, allowing installers and system owners alike to access and analyze performance data through intuitive software. In the case of Upsolar’s smart modules, system owners and operators benefit fromTigo Energy’s intelli- gence, which enables them to pinpoint and correct issues before they become major problems down the road. Even homeowners or operators away on vacation can easily monitor a system via a mobile app. With these modules, the moment a project goes online, operators and owners can walk away from the installation with confidence that their system is either performing at its full potential, or offering an immediate alert to performance issues. Anatomy of a Smart Module Real-time Visibility + = Upsolar Modules paired withTigo Energy’s Smart ModuleTechnology delivers more energy, active management and enhanced safety features through state-of-the-art module-embedded power electronics combined with advanced cloud-based software. SmartModule(mono- orpolycrystalline)
  • 3. Tigo Energy recently introduced its Smart Curve technology. This feature enables a module manufacturer to program the max voltage of a solar panel. The result – lower open circuit voltages and no coefficient of temperature which enables longer strings, as more modules can fit within max safety voltages. With longer strings, the electrical balance of systems can be reduced, requiring fewer combiner boxes, fuses, and home run wiring. Overall, this reduces electrical balance of systems costs by approximately 30%. Addition- ally, with fewer conductors, the system wire losses are reduced by approximately 0.4%. Finally, this design raises the average string voltage, giving inverter designers more options to reduce cost and increase efficiency. New developments in smart module technology: Tigo Energy's Smart Curve Tigo Energy’s monitoring software gives system owners visibility into the performance of their modules. System analytics track production, send alerts and proactively suggest maintenance to keep systems operating at maxi- mum efficiency and uptime. Traditional Modules Smart Modules 2.5 kW 3.2 kW 600V V Temperature Derate & Vmp/Voc Gap
  • 4. In 2012, Upsolar and Tigo Energy partnered to develop the largest smart solar array in North America. Located in Sharon, Vermont, the project utilizes 9,562 Upsolar modules equipped with Tigo Energy optimizers. Sharon is home to beautiful, rolling agricultural hills. Understandably, the project site owners and neighbors required that any PV system design preserve the natural look of the area with minimal land impact. Ordinarily, this would present a nightmarish task for the EPC team, who would face either a massive structural challenge or a lost customer. Instead, the smart modules allowed a design that flowed with the contours of the land. It’s no secret that the global solar industry has faced a number of growing pains in recent years, including fiscal and political turmoil, shifting incentives and price competition from utilities. Today, smart modules are offering an opportunity for project developers worldwide to combat design challenges and ease consumer uncertainty. Smart modules are driving stakeholders toward a more dynamic and intuitive solar experience—bringing clarity instead of confusion, and enabling high-yield projects on rooftops that previously would have gone undeveloped. Smart modules are a natural fit to ease the evolving challenges of a maturing industry, and the ideal solution to spur the next wave of significant market growth. Smart Modules in Action: The Rolling Hills of Vermont Smarter Solar, Now and in the Future Upsolar Global Co., Ltd. | T: +86 (0) 21 6277 5477 | F: +86 (0) 21 6277 5664 | www.upsolar.com | sales@upsolar.com Upsolar and Tigo Energy utilized smart modules to develop a high-performing array in Sharon, Vermont.

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