P rofessor Dmitri Vinnikov, of the TalTech Power Electronics Research Group says a new era of solar PV efficiency is here. He’s talking about their new hybrid micro inverter / optimizer that UBIK Solutions OU is making. Major advances in power electronics, and much lower costs have made their cutting-edge product, the S350 OptiVerter®, a reality. Prof Vinnikov is a co-founder of UBIK which began in 2011, with the aim of improving solar PV efficiency. One of the main areas of focus was to find ways to best deal with shade and low light. In Estonia, where Prof Vinnikov comes from, there are no ideal conditions for PV solar. He and his team set out to make the best of a bad situation using all available technologies. This is when they came up with the hybrid micro inverter and optimizer concept. They produced a prototype in 2016 and have been doing R & D since then to get the product right. They now have several patents around the world. The research group is actually a part of the Tallinn University of Technology, so it’s an “all in” effort. UBIK Solutions is now led by CEO Mr Andre Lindvest. The product aims at the residential market for panels up to 350 watt output, and systems up to 10kW. It suits both 60 and 72 cell panels. Its claimed that in shaded conditions the S350 OptiVerter® outperforms other solutions by up to 30%. The device has a patented multi mode control feature, giving an input voltage range up to 3x wider than others. In fact, the unit can take input from 8 to 60VDC. So, even in very low light or shading the maximum amount of power can be harvested. Prof Vinnikov claims it does this better than anything else currently on the market. The lifespan of the product is about 25 years which is about the same as most PV solar panels now. Each S350 OptiVerter® unit has its own communications gateway so there’s no need for a central hub. System management is through the FlowEM® cloud application. Ease of installation is one of the key features of the S350 OptiVerter®. There is nothing else you need between the panels and the Grid. There’s no special connectors required. It’s a case of install, setup and walk away. The unit complies with IP67, so not even Nordic winters can kill it! It has panel level monitoring that analyse performance, while even includes an estimation of PV panel life and advanced diagnostics. It performs this through the unique FlowEM® app. Right now, there are no details of cost yet, or when we can expect them here in Australia.