Solar photovoltaic (PV) inverter company Xantrex has received an award of US$1 million from Sandia National Laboratories in the United States to develop a high reliability inverter for distributed power applications.Livermore, California – October 31, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] The project is part of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies’ initiative to increase the use of PV power systems by improving reliability, reducing cost and increasing performance. Under the 14-month contract, Xantrex will complete the design and development of a high reliability 5 kW inverter and 40A maximum power point tracking charge controller as well as other accessories for the solar and distributed power markets. Xantrex is building on its own proof of concept designs that were completed in phase one. “Our goal is to encourage adoption of solar and other renewable energy systems by significantly improving the reliability of power electronics used in renewable energy production,” said Ward Bower of Sandia National Laboratories. “We expect this program will result in a mature product series of inverters with designs that can lead to scalable outputs ranging from 2 to 500 kVA.” Xantrex will focus on a rigorous design and test program with the goal of achieving products with an exceptionally long field life. The company will employ Highly Accelerated Life Testing (HALT) techniques using its new HALT chamber to verify that design goals are met throughout the project. “Xantrex is excited to have Sandia’s support to develop next-generation technologies and successfully deliver them to the marketplace,” said Ray Hudson, Xantrex vice president of Advanced Technology. “We are confident the high reliability inverters we develop will form the key building blocks for off-grid, back up and hybrid power systems in years to come.” Products that emerge from the program will be fully networkable supporting the new Xantrex Xanbus interface, which is based on industry standards. The first production units are expected to be introduced in 2005. Sandia National Laboratories’ Solar Programs and Solar Technologies Departments are involved in a wide range of national research, design and development projects focused on a “systems driven approach” to improving component and system performance, reliability and cost for photovoltaic technologies. Sandia is a U.S. Department of Energy National Laboratory and is managed by Lockheed Martin Sandia partners with a variety of government, industry and academic institutions to accomplish its work. Xantrex has worked with Sandia’s Solar Technologies Department on a number of successful projects in the past.