SunPower Patent Applications

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…

LOCALIZED POWER POINT OPTIMIZER FOR SOLAR CELL INSTALLATIONS

Granted: November 3, 2016
Application Number: 20160322829
In one embodiment, a solar cell installation includes several groups of solar cells. Each group of solar cells has a local power point optimizer configured to control power generation of the group. The local power point optimizer may be configured to determine an optimum operating condition for a corresponding group of solar cells. The local power point optimizer may adjust the operating condition of the group to the optimum operating condition by modulating a transistor, such as by…

RADIALLY ARRANGED METAL CONTACT FINGERS FOR SOLAR CELLS

Granted: September 1, 2016
Application Number: 20160254400
A solar cell includes negative metal contact fingers and positive metal contact fingers. The negative metal contact fingers are interdigitated with the positive metal contact fingers. The metal contact fingers, both positive and negative, have a radial design where they radially extend to surround at least 25% of a perimeter of a corresponding contact pad. The metal contact fingers have bend points, which collectively form a radial pattern with a center point within the contact pad.…

POWER POINT TRACKING

Granted: September 1, 2016
Application Number: 20160254673
A local power converter may include a controller to manipulate the operating point of a local power converter to cause the power point tracking feature of a central power converter to operate at a point determined by the controller. In some embodiments, the controller can manipulate the operating point of the local power converter by alternating between at least two modes. In some other embodiments, the controller can manipulate the operating point of the local power converter to provide…

HYBRID EMITTER ALL BACK CONTACT SOLAR CELL

Granted: July 14, 2016
Application Number: 20160204288
An all back contact solar cell has a hybrid emitter design. The solar cell has a thin dielectric layer formed on a backside surface of a single crystalline silicon substrate. One emitter of the solar cell is made of doped polycrystalline silicon that is formed on the thin dielectric layer. The other emitter of the solar cell is formed in the single crystalline silicon substrate and is made of doped single crystalline silicon. The solar cell includes contact holes that allow metal…

AUTOMATIC VOLTAGE REGULATION FOR PHOTOVOLTAIC SYSTEMS

Granted: June 9, 2016
Application Number: 20160164300
A photovoltaic system includes solar cells and photovoltaic inverters configured to convert direct current generated by the solar cells to alternating current. Grid voltage at the point of interconnection (POI) of the photovoltaic system and the power grid is measured and compared to a setpoint. A control signal is generated based on the measured grid voltage. The control signal is provided to the photovoltaic inverters. The control signal is adjusted to cause the photovoltaic inverters…

PROCESS AND STRUCTURES FOR FABRICATION OF SOLAR CELLS

Granted: April 28, 2016
Application Number: 20160118516
Contact holes of solar cells are formed by laser ablation to accommodate various solar cell designs. Use of a laser to form the contact holes is facilitated by replacing films formed on the diffusion regions with a film that has substantially uniform thickness. Contact holes may be formed to deep diffusion regions to increase the laser ablation process margins. The laser configuration may be tailored to form contact holes through dielectric films of varying thicknesses.

NON-PERMEABLE SUBSTRATE CARRIER FOR ELECTROPLATING

Granted: April 21, 2016
Application Number: 20160108541
One embodiment relates to a substrate carrier for use in electroplating a plurality of substrates. The substrate carrier comprises a non-conductive carrier body on which the substrates are to be held. Electrically-conductive lines are embedded within the carrier body, and a plurality of contact clips are coupled to the electrically-conductive lines embedded within the carrier body. The contact clips hold the substrates in place and electrically couple the substrates to the…

Micro-Inverter Solar Panel Mounting

Granted: April 21, 2016
Application Number: 20160112003
Processes, systems, devices, and articles of manufacture are provided. Each may include adapting micro-inverters initially configured for frame-mounting to mounting on a frameless solar panel. This securement may include using an adaptive clamp or several adaptive clamps secured to a micro-inverter or its components, and using compressive forces applied directly to the solar panel to secure the adaptive clamp and the components to the solar panel. The clamps can also include compressive…

MITIGATION OF ARC FLASH HAZARD IN PHOTOVOLTAIC POWER PLANTS

Granted: March 24, 2016
Application Number: 20160087425
Arc flash mitigation devices are employed to protect personnel during maintenance of photovoltaic inverters. During normal operation, an alternating current (AC) output of a photovoltaic inverter is coupled to a low voltage winding of a step up transformer through a bus-bar (e.g., an electrically conductive interconnect), which has higher current rating than a fuse. During maintenance, the bus-bar is replaced with the fuse. The fuse may be employed in conjunction with a switch. The…

PHOTOVOLTAIC ARRAY WITH ARRAY-ROOF INTEGRATION MEMBER

Granted: March 17, 2016
Application Number: 20160079911
One embodiment relates to a photovoltaic (PV) apparatus. The PV apparatus includes a plurality of photovoltaic modules arranged in an array and attached to a support structure which is attached to a roof. Each of the photovoltaic modules comprises a plurality of photovoltaic cells. A first array-roof integration member is attached to a first side of the array. The array-roof integration member covers a gap between the first side of the array and the roof. Another embodiment relates to a…

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

Granted: March 10, 2016
Application Number: 20160071991
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…