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Startup fights the shadow losses involved with photovoltaics

Where there is light, there is shadow: Nobody knows that better than the operators of photovoltaic systems. A startup at Karlsruhe University wants to minimize such energy losses - for a reasonable price.

30 Sep. 2018
HMI-ID09-052ds_Jan-Holthaus_HsKA
Startup fights the shadow losses involved with photovoltaics (Photo: Jan Holthaus/HsKA)

The startup BRC Solar is not presenting the first ever solution to minimize shadow losses in photovoltaic systems. However, as the founders explain on Youtube , their competitors are either cheap and inefficient, or they offer a high degree of efficiency at a similarly high price. At the end of 2016, the energy portal beegy.com in fact came to the conclusion that the so-called power optimizers are not always worthwhile at prices between 175 and 200 euros. BRC Solar, on the other hand, aims to leverage its add-on module to offer good performance for only € 35.

Even small shadows can reduce the yield of photovoltaic modules in a big way. As the young entrepreneurs explain, if shadows fall on only a twentieth of the surface, this can cause the panel to almost completely malfunction. The problem repeats itself because the modules are usually connected in series one behind the other. If the power falls in one module, then it falls in the entire plant, emphasizes Richard Brace, CTO of BRC-Solar. The startup's response was a patented circuit that is only attached to shaded modules. This increases the efficiency of the overall system while reducing capital expenditure.

The box was developed and tested at the University of Karlsruhe , where, according to the company, it has already shown that it can "significantly increase" the power generated by solar modules with shadow problems.