Shading conditions of 10% may make a typical solar panel useless, but Optivolt said its technology can provide 25 times more energy in the shade than conventional panels.

Solar panels are praised for their ability to generate energy without emissions during the day, but when they are overshadowed, production is quickly affected. In traditional solar panels, covering only 1% of the panel can reduce power by 33%, and shading by 10% can completely reduce production.

The company Optivolt from San Francisco saw here the opportunity to supply a product that can turn shaded areas into a place of abundant photovoltaic production. The company said its own shade-holding technology, Optivolt Pulse, provides up to 25 times more energy in the shade than conventional solar panels.

Pulse is an inexpensive shade system that lives in a junction box and is a replacement for bypass diodes using the same panel connections.

When the panel is fully lit, the shadow tolerance system does nothing and consumes no energy. When the panel is shaded, the optimizer starts working, almost averaging the shaded area across the panel.

Assuming that shading occurs behind a normal distribution, averaging 5% and a standard deviation of 10%, its panels produce 40% more energy and 20% less energy consumption compared to a conventional three-diode panel.

Image: Optivolt

The Pulse shade tolerance system is controlled by Optivolt Glide, an MPPT controller with 98% efficiency. Together, the two technologies combine to form a series of Thin Mint panels, devices ranging from small 14-watt panels to power individual electronic devices to robust 410-watt solar modules.

The patented device is currently competing with the U.S. Department of Energy for equipment.

Optivolt has stated that its product is the next generation of solar panels. He points to the history of solar energy optimization, saying that the 2000s focused on reducing the macro-scale balance of system losses in large solar facilities, and the 2010s saw an increase in maximum power tracking (MPPT), with module-level optimization . built-in panel to increase production. Now Optivolt believes that submodule optimization represents “the next big limit for PV”.

“If you assume that the global solar installation base has been overshadowed by an average of only 1% with a standard deviation of 5%, then in 2021 225 terawatt-hours of power generation was not used due to the limitations of modern solar technology.” said Rohit Kalyanpur, founder and CEO of Optivolt. “That’s about $ 29 billion in electricity generation and $ 11.2 billion in compensation for carbon emissions that went unnoticed. This is only a conservative estimate, the real figure could be much higher. “

Image: Optivolt

The company said it sees immediate opportunities in distributed and offline applications such as Internet of Things devices (IoT), 5G infrastructure, military equipment, robotics and electric vehicles. It has already deployed hundreds of its panels for outdoor security cameras that have been operating around the clock 100% of the time for more than a year, without interference. The company said it is currently fulfilling contracts to produce thousands of units. It has also been announced as the official solar partner for the deployment of 5G at Celnex, a European telecommunications company with $ 30 billion.

Optivolt was launched in 2018, and the company recently announced its biggest win in funding to date, raising $ 8.2 million in the initial round of funding led by Atlas Innovate. Other participating investors included Social Impact Capital, Pure Ventures, City Light Capital and Peter Raylan, who was the initial investor in Discord. The new round will bring Optivolt funding to $ 10.1 million.

“What fascinates us about this technology is that it not only dramatically improves existing solar applications, but also allows the use of solar energy in new markets that are in dire need of the ‘necessary work’ of critical energy, such as 5G infrastructure and industrial IoT.” – said Alain Rothstein, partner of Atlas Innovate.

“Our power grid is becoming increasingly unstable due to the effects of climate change, and it is projected that with current consumption we will run out of oil in 41 years. Optivolt’s shade-tolerant panels provide reliable off-grid energy for maintaining machine electricity and critical infrastructure even in the most adverse conditions, ”said Daniel Coffman, co-founder and CTO of Optivolt.

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