SunPower Patent Grants

Device and method for electrically decoupling a solar module from a solar system

Granted: August 22, 2017
Patent Number: 9742190
Devices and methods for electrically decoupling a solar module from a solar system are described. In one embodiment, a solar system includes a string of a plurality of solar modules coupled with an inverter through a DC power line. An AC input is coupled with the DC power line. A device is also included and is configured to provide a closed circuit for one of the plurality of solar modules if an AC signal voltage from the AC input is present on the DC power line, and is configured to…

Apparatuses to support photovoltaic modules

Granted: August 22, 2017
Patent Number: 9743501
Methods and apparatuses to support photovoltaic (“PV”) modules are described. A saddle bracket has a mounting surface to support one or more PV modules over a tube, a gusset coupled to the mounting surface, and a mounting feature coupled to the gusset to couple to the tube. A grounding washer has a first portion to couple to a support; and a second portion coupled to the first portion to provide a ground path to a PV module. A PV system has a saddle bracket; a PV module over the…

Thermal management

Granted: August 15, 2017
Patent Number: 9735300
A solar energy receiver can include a heat sink configured to cool or otherwise dissipate heat. The heat sink can include a plurality of fin members, each having bases that are generally aligned with each other. The bases of the fin members can be connected to one another with connection devices that are spaced away from the bases, so as to improve thermal conductivity performance characteristics.

Foil-based metallization of solar cells using removable protection layer

Granted: August 15, 2017
Patent Number: 9735308
Approaches for foil-based metallization of solar cells are described. For example, a method of fabricating a solar cell involves placing a metal foil over a metalized surface of a wafer of the solar cell. The method further involves placing a protection layer over the metal foil. The method further involves locating the metal foil with the metalized surface of the wafer. The protection layer preserves an optically consistent surface of the metal foil during the locating. The method also…

Circuits and methods for limiting open circuit voltage of photovoltaic strings

Granted: August 15, 2017
Patent Number: 9735729
A photovoltaic string may include an open circuit voltage limiter that conducts current in one direction to provide a limiter voltage less than an open circuit voltage of the photovoltaic string, and that conducts current in the other direction. One or more open circuit voltage limiters may be connected across the photovoltaic string or across selected groups of solar cells of the photovoltaic string. The limiter voltage may be greater than a maximum power point voltage but less than the…

Flash testing of photovoltaic modules with integrated electronics

Granted: August 15, 2017
Patent Number: 9735730
A method for testing a photovoltaic (PV) module having an integrated power converter includes: obtaining a reference output signature of a PV module design in response to a flash pattern; applying the flash pattern to a PV module under test; acquiring an observed output signature of the PV module under test in response to the flash pattern; and comparing the observed output signature of the PV module under test to the reference output signature. Second reference output and observed…

Thermal compression bonding approaches for foil-based metallization of solar cells

Granted: August 1, 2017
Patent Number: 9722103
Thermal compression bonding approaches for foil-based metallization of solar cells, and the resulting solar cells, are described. For example, a method of fabricating a solar cell includes placing a metal foil over a metalized surface of a wafer of the solar cell. The method also includes locating the metal foil with the metalized surface of the wafer. The method also includes, subsequent to the locating, applying a force to the metal foil such that a shear force appears between the…

Conversion of metal seed layer for buffer material

Granted: August 1, 2017
Patent Number: 9722105
Approaches for forming solar cells with a converted seed layer as a buffer material and the resulting solar cells are described. In an example, a method of fabricating a solar cell includes converting regions of a seed layer disposed on a plurality of p-n junctions of the solar cell to form a pattern of interdigitated converted regions. The converted regions are configured to electrically insulate non-converted regions of the seed layer from each other and provide a barrier to a laser…

Apparatus for converting direct current to alternating current using multiple converters

Granted: August 1, 2017
Patent Number: 9722504
An inverter for converting an input direct current (DC) waveform from a DC source to an output alternating current (AC) waveform for delivery to an AC grid includes an input converter, an output converter, and an active filter, each of which is electrically coupled to a bus. The bus may be a DC bus or an AC bus. The input converter is configured to convert the input DC waveform to a DC or AC bus waveform. The output converter is configured to convert the bus waveform to the output AC…

Solar cell emitter region fabrication using ion implantation

Granted: July 25, 2017
Patent Number: 9716205
Methods of fabricating solar cell emitter regions using ion implantation, and resulting solar cells, are described. In an example, a method of fabricating alternating N-type and P-type emitter regions of a solar cell involves forming a silicon layer above a substrate. Dopant impurity atoms of a first conductivity type are implanted, through a first shadow mask, in the silicon layer to form first implanted regions and resulting in non-implanted regions of the silicon layer. Dopant…

Interconnect processing assembly for connecting solar cells

Granted: July 25, 2017
Patent Number: 9716206
A solar cell interconnect processing assembly includes a stack of interconnects, a positioning head, and a control system. The positioning head picks up an interconnect from the stack of interconnects at a first location, moves the interconnect from the first location to a second location, heats the interconnect while moving the interconnect from the first location to the second location, and places the interconnect over two adjacent solar cells at the second location. The control system…

Photovoltaic array with array-roof integration member

Granted: July 25, 2017
Patent Number: 9716465
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…

Parallel bus

Granted: July 18, 2017
Patent Number: 9710005
A photovoltaic (PV) system can include strings of PV collection devices. A positive parallel bus can be coupled to positive terminals of first and second strings and a negative parallel bus can be coupled to negative terminals of first and second strings.

Solar cell interconnect with multiple current paths

Granted: June 27, 2017
Patent Number: 9691924
Solar cell interconnects with multiple current paths. A solar cell interconnect may include a plurality of in-plane slits arranged in several rows. The in-plane slits may be spaced to provide strain relief without unduly increasing the electrical path resistance through the solar cell interconnect. The in-plane slits may be staggered, for example.

Power system islanding detection with waveform fitting

Granted: June 27, 2017
Patent Number: 9692319
A method includes generating samples of a grid parameter at a point of common coupling, fitting a waveform to the samples, and detecting an islanding condition in response to a parameter of the waveform. The waveform may be fit to the samples using a nonlinear algorithm. A controller includes a waveform fitting circuit to fit a waveform to samples of a grid parameter, an inverter controller to generate one or more switching signals to control an inverter in response to an error signal,…

Solar cell module with high electric susceptibility layer

Granted: June 20, 2017
Patent Number: 9685571
A solar cell module includes solar cells that are encased in a protective package and a high electric susceptibility layer that is placed on the solar cells. The high electric susceptibility layer is polarized such that a sheet charge is developed at the interface of the high electric susceptibility layer and the solar cells. The protective package includes an encapsulant that encapsulates the solar cells. The encapsulant may be a multilayer encapsulant, with the high electric…

Diode and heat spreader for solar module

Granted: June 20, 2017
Patent Number: 9685573
Arrangements of diodes and heat spreaders for solar modules are described. For example, a solar module may include a backsheet with a low profile, surface-mount diode disposed above the backsheet. A pair of ribbon interconnects is coupled to the low profile, surface-mount diode and may penetrate the backsheet.

Master-slave architecture for controlling operation of photovoltaic power plants

Granted: June 13, 2017
Patent Number: 9680301
A photovoltaic power plant with master-slave control architecture. The photovoltaic power plant includes slave plant controllers, with each slave plant controller controlling operation of photovoltaic inverters that convert direct current generated by solar cells to alternating current suitable for delivery to a utility power grid at a point of interconnection (POI). A master plant controller controls and coordinates the operation of the slave plant controllers. The master plant…

Electrical insulator casing

Granted: June 13, 2017
Patent Number: 9681565
Systems, processes, and manufactures are provided that employ a casing associated with an electrical component to provide some, most, substantially all or all electrical insulative protection necessary for the electrical component. This casing may be further employed with potting or other materials to supplement and add additional or different protections for the component. These additional protections can include additional insulative resistance, thermal protection, moisture protection…

Trench process and structure for backside contact solar cells with polysilicon doped regions

Granted: May 30, 2017
Patent Number: 9666735
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…