Enabling & Support

Regulator for an (ac) electrical power supply source

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ESA / Enabling & Support / Space Engineering & Technology
585 - Abstract:

ESA has developed a regulator for an array of solar cells that comprises a switching voltage converter and a PWM control circuit for driving the switching converter. The control circuit uses both the input voltage of the voltage converter, and the A.C. current flowing through the switching inductor. This means there are much lower conduction losses.

This design will help to regulate the current being fed back into the grid from the solar panels and is designed to work reliably with a plurality of regulators operating inside one solar panel. License agreements are sought.


The offer is an adaptation and improvement of pre-existing solar regulators that are used to regulate the current flowing from an input source (e.g. solar cell) through to an output power bus. This design replaces the active amplifier that current regulators use with an inductor.

This new design is intended to perform the same function as the pre-existing design but with minimal conduction losses and more reliability.

The new regulators would be very beneficial to the energy sector, especially with the rise of private solar panels on houses and other non “power generating” buildings. They are also designed to operate with “segregated redundancy”; that is if one or more regulators fail, the system as a whole is not compromised and can continue to operate.

The design could also have applications in similar designs to solar panels, where there is one section with a current intensity that is approximately constant and independent from voltage, and a second section where the voltage is approximately constant and independent from current. This includes fuel cells, radioisotope thermal generators or wind turbines.

Innovations and advantages:

  • Inventive control circuit introduces minimal to no conduction losses.
  • Cost saving at power system level.
  • The control circuit is compatible with segregated redundancy – no downtime for maintenance.

Commercialisation aspects:

Applications and Markets
The technology has applications in a variety of alternative energy sources, especially solar. The higher reliability means that these devices can be mounted in remote locations.

Intellectual property status
A PCT application has been filed. Looking for license agreements.

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