Utilizing maximum power point trackers in parallel to maximize the power output of a solar (photovoltaic) array
Stephenson, Christopher A.
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It is common when optimizing a photovoltaic (PV) system to use a maximum power point tracker (MPPT) to increase the power output of the solar array. Currently, most military applications that utilize solar energy omit or use only a single MPPT per PV system. The focus of this research was to quantify the expected benefits of using multiple MPPTs within a PV system based on current technologies and to summarize what may be possible in the near future. In this thesis, the advertised 58% gains in efficiency claimed by manufacturers of the multiple MPPT approach were tested and a set of generalized recommendations concerning which applications may benefit from this distributed approach, and which ones may not were sought. The primary benefit of utilizing multiple MPPTs is the concept that independently operating panels within a solar array could increase the overall reliability and resiliency of the entire PV system and potentially allow for solar applications to be used in particularly harsh and dynamic environments with increased confidence. Additionally, using multiple, smaller MPPTs could decrease the overall array dimensions that would save space, reduce weight, and lower costs.
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