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Title: A novel DC-DC converter for photovoltaic applications
Author: Nathan, Kumaran Saenthan
ISNI:       0000 0004 7661 1385
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2019
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Growing concerns about climate change have led to the world experiencing an unprecedented push towards renewable energy. Economic drivers and government policies mean that small, distributed forms of generation, like solar photovoltaics, will play a large role in our transition to a clean energy future. In this thesis, a novel DC-DC converter known as the Coupled Inductors Combined Cuk-SEPIC' (CI-CCS) converter is explored, which is particularly attractive for these photovoltaic applications. A topological modification is investigated which provides several benefits, including increased power density, efficiency, and operational advantages for solar energy conversion. The converter, which is based on the combination of the Cuk and SEPIC converters, provides a bipolar output (i.e. both positive and negative voltages). This converter also offers both step-up and step-down capabilities with a continuous input current, and uses only a single, ground-referenced switching device. A significant enhancement to this converter is proposed: magnetic coupling of the converter's three inductors. This can substantially reduce the CI-CCS converter's input current ripple - an important benefit for maximum power point tracking (MPPT) in photovoltaic applications. The effect of this coupling is examined theoretically, and optimisations are performed - both analytically and in simulations - to inform the design of a 4 kW prototype CI-CCS converter, switched at a high frequency (100 kHz) with a silicon carbide (SiC) MOSFET. Simulation and experimental results are then presented to demonstrate the CI-CCS converter's operation and highlight the benefits of coupling its inductors. An efficiency analysis is also undertaken and its sources of losses are quantified. The converter is subsequently integrated into a domestic photovoltaic system to provide a practical demonstration of its suitability for such applications. MPPT is integrated into the CI-CCS DC-DC converter, and a combined half bridge/T-type converter is developed and paired with the CI-CCS converter to form an entirely transformerless single-phase solar energy conversion system. The combination of the CI-CCS converter's bipolar DC output with the combined half bridge/T-type converter's bipolar DC input allows grounding at both the photovoltaic panels and the AC grid's neutral point. This eliminates high frequency common mode voltages from the PV array, which in turn prevents leakage currents. The entire system can be operated in grid-connected mode - where the objective is to maximise power extracted from the photovoltaic system, and is demonstrated in stand-alone mode - where the objective is to match solar generation with the load's power demands.
Supervisor: Long, Teng Sponsor: General Sir John Monash Foundation ; Origin Foundation ; Cambridge Trust
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Renewable energy ; Solar power ; Solar photovoltaics ; DC-DC converter ; DC-DC power conversion ; DC-AC power conversion ; MPPT ; Bipolar DC output ; Solar power generation ; Grounding ; Power electronics ; CCS converter ; CI-CCS converter ; Coupled inductors ; Cuk ; SEPIC ; Integrated magnetics