SunPower Patent Grants

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…

Photovoltaic cell and laminate metallization

Granted: May 30, 2017
Patent Number: 9666739
A photovoltaic laminate is disclosed. Embodiments include placing a first encapsulant on a substantially transparent layer that includes a front side of a photovoltaic laminate. Embodiments also include placing a first solar cell on the first encapsulant. Embodiments include placing a metal foil on the first solar cell, where the metal foil uniformly contacts a back side of the first solar cell. Embodiments include forming a metal bond that couples the metal foil to the first solar cell.…

Islanded operation of distributed power sources

Granted: May 23, 2017
Patent Number: 9660451
A method for synchronizing distributed generation power sources during an islanding event may include synchronizing a first one of the islanded local power sources to a master local reference, and synchronizing a second one of the islanded local power sources to the master local reference. In-rush current may be controlled by energizing the local load sequentially in stages when a utility grid is connected to the point of common connection. The local loads may also be selectively…

Solar cell stringer calibrator

Granted: May 23, 2017
Patent Number: 9660575
A solar cell stringer calibrator has been disclosed. In an example, a method includes loading a base having pressure sensors into a solar cell stringer to be positioned under a tacking head. The tacking head is lowered onto the base. The pressure sensors measure pressure applied by the tacking head. The method involves determining whether the pressure applied by the tacking head is within a predetermined range. In another example, a method involves heating a solder joint, and measuring a…

Contacts for solar cells formed by directing a laser beam with a particular shape on a metal foil over a dielectric region

Granted: May 16, 2017
Patent Number: 9653638
A method of fabricating a solar cell is disclosed. The method can include forming a dielectric region on a surface of a solar cell structure and forming a metal layer on the dielectric layer. The method can also include configuring a laser beam with a particular shape and directing the laser beam with the particular shape on the metal layer, where the particular shape allows a contact to be formed between the metal layer and the solar cell structure.

Multi-stage power inverter

Granted: May 9, 2017
Patent Number: 9647574
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, an input controller, and an output controller. The input controller is configured to control the operation of the input converter, and the output controller is configured to control the operation of the output controller. The input and output controllers are electrically isolated from…

Methods and structures for improving the structural integrity of solar cells

Granted: May 2, 2017
Patent Number: 9640676
A method for manufacturing solar cells is disclosed. The method includes forming an insulating material in a printable suspension along the at least one side edge of a solar cell, the insulating material in a printable suspension further adapted to form a protective film which reduces cracking near at least one side edge of the solar cell and improve structural integrity against mechanical stress. The protective film has an elastic modulus of at least 3 GPa, an elongation break point of…

Solar cell emitter region fabrication with differentiated P-type and N-type region architectures

Granted: April 25, 2017
Patent Number: 9634177
Methods of fabricating solar cell emitter regions with differentiated P-type and N-type regions architectures, and resulting solar cells, are described. In an example, a back contact solar cell includes a substrate having a light-receiving surface and a back surface. A first polycrystalline silicon emitter region of a first conductivity type is disposed on a first thin dielectric layer disposed on the back surface of the substrate. A second polycrystalline silicon emitter region of a…

Method of using laser welding to ohmic contact of metallic thermal and diffusion barrier layer for foil-based metallization of solar cells

Granted: April 25, 2017
Patent Number: 9634178
Methods of fabricating solar cells using a metal-containing thermal and diffusion barrier layer in foil-based metallization approaches, and the resulting solar cells, are described. For example, a method of fabricating a solar cell includes forming a plurality of semiconductor regions in or above a substrate. The method also includes forming a metal-containing thermal and diffusion barrier layer above the plurality of semiconductor regions. The method also includes forming a metal seed…

Communication between photovoltaic devices on a shared power line

Granted: April 25, 2017
Patent Number: 9634723
An electric system, method, and computer-readable medium facilitate shared access to a shared power line for communication using a PLC protocol. The electric system, method, and computer-readable medium may determine when the shared power line is available for a transmission, allocate unicast transmission time slots to each of a plurality of inverters, transmit a multicast message requesting that each of the plurality of inverters communicate information during its allocates transmission…

Electronic component housing with heat sink

Granted: April 25, 2017
Patent Number: 9635783
A photovoltaic assembly for converting solar radiation to electrical energy is described. The photovoltaic assembly includes a photovoltaic module and an electronic component housing. The photovoltaic module has a frame, a laminate, a plurality of solar cells and a backsheet. The electronic component housing has an upper section to couple to the backsheet, a middle section and a lower section for enclosing electronic components. The electronic components can include a microinverter or…

Power inverter docking system for photovoltaic modules

Granted: April 18, 2017
Patent Number: 9627555
An electronics module docking system includes docking member removably coupled to a photovoltaic module. The docking system includes a first connector port electrically coupled to one or more photovoltaic cells of the photovoltaic module. The photovoltaic module is selectively coupleable to the docking member. The docking system includes a housing to enclose an electronics module. The housing may include second connector port that is selectively engageable to the power electronics…

Foil-based metallization of solar cells

Granted: April 18, 2017
Patent Number: 9627566
Approaches for the foil-based metallization of solar cells and the resulting solar cells are described. In an example, a solar cell includes a substrate. A plurality of alternating N-type and P-type semiconductor regions is disposed in or above the substrate. A conductive contact structure is disposed above the plurality of alternating N-type and P-type semiconductor regions. The conductive contact structure includes a plurality of metal seed material regions providing a metal seed…