Solar photovoltaic (PV) cells typically produce dc voltages of less than one volt. The amount of electrical power produced by such a cell is equal to its DC voltage multiplied by its dc current, and these quantities depend on multiple factors including the solar irradiance, cell temperature, process variations and cell electrical operating point. It is commonly desired to produce more power than can be generated by a single cell, and hence multiple cells are employed. It is also commonly desired to supply power at voltages substantially higher than the voltage generated by a single cell. Hence, multiple cells are typically connected in series.
The disclosed embodiments increase the power generated by a photovoltaic array, when the PV panels within the PV array are not uniformly illuminated or oriented or when PV panels are mismatched (e.g., have varying performance characteristics) and/or operate at non-uniform temperatures. It also provides simpler interconnection and wiring of the elements (e.g., PV panels) of the array. A DC-DC converter comprised of a DC transformer is coupled to each PV panel in a photovoltaic array to generate an increased dc voltage from a lower dc voltage produced by the PV panel. The outputs of the DC-DC converters are connected in parallel to a dc bus, which distributes the resulting voltage. As a result, the energy generated by the PV array is increased, the costs of system design and installation are reduced, and it becomes feasible to install PV arrays in new locations such as on gabled or non-planar roofs.
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