SunPower Patent Applications

Solar Tracker System

Granted: June 29, 2017
Application Number: 20170187192
Solar tracker systems having several rows of photovoltaic strings individually actuated by respective tracker control systems, are described. In an example, a solar tracker system includes a tracker control system having a tracker controller powered by forward-fed power from a photovoltaic string, e.g., during daytime, and powered by back-fed power from a station hub, e.g., during nighttime. Methods of operating the solar tracker system to forward-feed or back-feed power to the tracker…

ETCHING OF SOLAR CELL MATERIALS

Granted: June 8, 2017
Application Number: 20170162728
A solar cell is fabricated by etching one or more of its layers without substantially etching another layer of the solar cell. In one embodiment, a copper layer in the solar cell is etched without substantially etching a topmost metallic layer comprising tin. For example, an etchant comprising sulfuric acid and hydrogen peroxide may be employed to etch the copper layer selective to the tin layer. A particular example of the aforementioned etchant is a Co-Bra Etch® etchant modified to…

AUTOMATED PHOTOVOLTAIC GEOSPATIAL LOCATION

Granted: April 27, 2017
Application Number: 20170115119
Location functionality to determine the geospatial location of a PV module is described. This functionality may be performed at the PV module site itself as well as remote from the PV module site. The location functionality may involve the analysis of data collected from the location of the PV module or modules being analyzed as well as data from locations of other PV modules, which are not being analyzed. This data, from other PV modules may be gathered, recorded, and used as a…

PHOTOVOLTAIC MANAGEMENT AND MODULE-LEVEL POWER ELECTRONICS

Granted: April 13, 2017
Application Number: 20170104447
A photovoltaic (PV) system includes module-level power electronic (MLPE) devices that produce energy. The PV system includes a gateway to receive and send data to MLPE devices. The gateway also connects the PV system with a network, such as a local area network, that allows access to the Internet. The gateway provides functionality within the PV system to perform various processes to improve operation of MLPE devices.

COMMUNICATION SYSTEMS ADAPTABLE TO POWER LINE COMMUNICATIONS

Granted: March 23, 2017
Application Number: 20170085288
A communication system and method of operating the same that includes, in one embodiment, a transmit filter including a transmit filter capacitor, and a receive filter coupled to the transmit filter. The communication system also includes a switch, coupled to an auxiliary winding of a transformer and to the transmit filter capacitor, configured to alter an impedance of the transmit filter during a receive mode of operation of the communication system. In another embodiment, a transmitter…

PATTERNED THIN FOIL

Granted: March 9, 2017
Application Number: 20170069777
An adhesive may be applied to a surface of a reusable carrier. Metal foil may be attached to the adhesive to couple the metal foil to the surface of the reusable carrier. The metal foil may be patterned without damaging the reusable carrier. A semiconductor structure (e.g., a solar cell) may be attached to the patterned metal foil. The reusable carrier may then be removed. In some embodiments, the semiconductor structure may be encapsulated using an encapsulant, with the adhesive being…

Communication Within A Power Inverter Using Transformer Voltage Frequency

Granted: March 9, 2017
Application Number: 20170070156
Communicating across a power transformer is provided. Processes can include outputting a cyclical voltage at an alternating frequency across a multiple winding transformer and modulating the frequency of the alternating voltage to provide communication across the transformer. Devices and systems can also be employed with applicable features and designs.

POWER PROCESSING

Granted: March 2, 2017
Application Number: 20170063094
Differential power processing (DPP) converters are used within circuit architecture of solar power modules to process the mismatched power between solar elements in a power module. The DPP converters use various topologies to process the mismatched power. These topologies can include a housekeeping power supply where the housekeeping power is coupled to the main bus, or, through various other tapping topologies, including to a subset of PV cell substrings.

PREVENTING HARMFUL POLARIZATION OF SOLAR CELLS

Granted: February 16, 2017
Application Number: 20170047888
In one embodiment, harmful solar cell polarization is prevented or minimized by providing a conductive path that bleeds charge from a front side of a solar cell to the bulk of a wafer. The conductive path may include patterned holes in a dielectric passivation layer, a conductive anti-reflective coating, or layers of conductive material formed on the top or bottom surface of an anti-reflective coating, for example. Harmful solar cell polarization may also be prevented by biasing a region…

PREVENTING HARMFUL POLARIZATION OF SOLAR CELLS

Granted: February 2, 2017
Application Number: 20170033248
In one embodiment, harmful solar cell polarization is prevented or minimized by providing a conductive path that bleeds charge from a front side of a solar cell to the bulk of a wafer. The conductive path may include patterned holes in a dielectric passivation layer, a conductive anti-reflective coating, or layers of conductive material formed on the top or bottom surface of an anti-reflective coating, for example. Harmful solar cell polarization may also be prevented by biasing a region…

FRONT CONTACT SOLAR CELL WITH FORMED ELECTRICALLY CONDUCTING LAYERS ON THE FRONT SIDE AND BACKSIDE

Granted: February 2, 2017
Application Number: 20170033251
A bipolar solar cell includes a backside junction formed by a silicon substrate and a first doped layer of a first dopant type on the backside of the solar cell. A second doped layer of a second dopant type makes an electrical connection to the substrate from the front side of the solar cell. A first metal contact of a first electrical polarity electrically connects to the first doped layer on the backside of the solar cell, and a second metal contact of a second electrical polarity…

MODULE ASSEMBLY FOR THIN SOLAR CELLS

Granted: January 12, 2017
Application Number: 20170012152
Solar cells are packaged by placing the solar cells between sheets of encapsulants. The encapsulants are exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light to cure the encapsulants and bond the encapsulants together to encapsulate the solar cells. The UV curing steps may be performed to bond one of the encapsulants to a transparent top cover and the solar cells, and to bond the other encapsulant to the solar cells and a backsheet. A protective package that includes the transparent top cover, encapsulated…

SNUBBER CIRCUIT, POWER CONVERTER AND METHODS OF OPERATING THE SAME

Granted: December 29, 2016
Application Number: 20160380425
A snubber circuit for use with a power converter having an input inductor coupled to a winding of a transformer, and method of operating the same. In one embodiment, the snubber circuit includes a series-coupled clamp diode and a clamp capacitor coupled across the input inductor. The snubber circuit further includes a clamp switch coupled across and configured to regulate a voltage of the clamp capacitor.

HIERARCHICAL CONTROL OF A PLURALITY OF POWER SUBSYSTEMS AND METHOD OF OPERATING THE SAME

Granted: December 29, 2016
Application Number: 20160380434
An apparatus formed with a plurality of power subsystems, and method of operating the same. In one embodiment, the apparatus is formed with plurality of local controllers to control an operating characteristic of at least one of the plurality of power subsystems. A central controller of the apparatus is configured to receive an indication of an overall power produced by the plurality of power subsystems, selectively command a first local controller of the plurality of local controllers…

PHOTOVOLTAIC SYSTEMS WITH LOCAL MAXIMUM POWER POINT TRACKING PREVENTION AND METHODS FOR OPERATING SAME

Granted: December 15, 2016
Application Number: 20160365733
A photovoltaic system includes solar cells and an inverter configured to convert direct current generated by the solar cells to alternating current. The photovoltaic system includes a maximum power point (MPP) tracking module configured to perform MPP tracking for the photovoltaic system. The MPP tracking module is configured to detect shading of the solar cells and to modify its MPP tracking to prevent tracking of local MPPs. The MPP tracking module may be incorporated in the inverter.

TESTING OF MODULE INTEGRATED ELECTRONICS USING POWER REVERSAL

Granted: December 8, 2016
Application Number: 20160359454
A method for testing a photovoltaic (PV) module includes applying a test sequence to the integrated power converter, reversing the integrated power converter in response to the test sequence, and obtaining test results from the PV module in response to the test sequence. The test sequence may include applying reverse excitation power to output terminals of the reversible integrated power converter. The reverse excitation power may provide bootstrap power to one or more components of the…

SOLAR CELL HAVING DOPED SEMICONDUCTOR HETEROJUNCTION CONTACTS

Granted: November 24, 2016
Application Number: 20160343883
A silicon solar cell has doped amorphous silicon contacts formed on a tunnel silicon oxide layer on a surface of a silicon substrate. High temperature processing is unnecessary in fabricating the solar cell.

METALLIZATION OF SOLAR CELLS USING METAL FOILS

Granted: November 24, 2016
Application Number: 20160343888
A solar cell structure includes P-type and N-type doped regions. A dielectric spacer is formed on a surface of the solar cell structure. A metal layer is formed on the dielectric spacer and on the surface of the solar cell structure that is exposed by the dielectric spacer. A metal foil is placed on the metal layer. A laser beam is used to weld the metal foil to the metal layer. A laser beam is also used to pattern the metal foil. The laser beam ablates portions of the metal foil and the…

TRENCH PROCESS AND STRUCTURE FOR BACKSIDE CONTACT SOLAR CELLS WITH POLYSILICON DOPED REGIONS

Granted: November 24, 2016
Application Number: 20160343890
A solar cell includes polysilicon P-type and N-type doped regions on a backside of a substrate, such as a silicon wafer. A trench structure separates the P-type doped region from the N-type doped region. Each of the P-type and N-type doped regions may be formed over a thin dielectric layer. The trench structure may include a textured surface for increased solar radiation collection. Among other advantages, the resulting structure increases efficiency by providing isolation between…

CONTROL TECHNIQUES FOR PHOTOVOLTAIC POWER PLANTS

Granted: November 24, 2016
Application Number: 20160344191
A photovoltaic power plant includes solar cells and inverters that convert direct current generated by the solar cells to alternating current. The reactive powers generated by the inverters are based on a reactive power generated by a virtual inverter. The virtual inverter has an equivalent impedance representing the impedances of the inverters in the photovoltaic power plant. The reactive power setpoints of the inverters may be received from a local interpreter. The local interpreter…