power4re: Research Project to Increase Converter Reliability Starts

May 27, 2020

Durable converters that are insensitive to environmental influences are an indispensable technological component of the energy transformation with a high economic potential. In the research project "power4re" (reliable converters for the renewable energy supply), five Fraunhofer Institutes under the leadership of the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy Systems IWES are working together with industry representatives on solutions to increase the reliability and robustness of inverters in PV systems and frequency converters in wind turbines. The power4re project is being funded within the framework of the internal research program PREPARE of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft with funds totaling 3.5 million euros.

Converter module of a wind turbine
© Fraunhofer IWES
Converter module of a wind turbine.

Inverters are used to connect photovoltaic and wind energy systems to the grid in order to feed in renewable electricity with grid-compliant voltage and frequency. They have to work under particularly challenging operating and environmental conditions and are therefore among the components that most frequently fail.

The focus of "power4re" is on application-specific weak points and their failure mechanisms. In addition to hardware modifications and protection concepts, the project also focuses on suitable test procedures to evaluate these under typical application conditions. The solutions aimed at increasing converter reliability are not limited to wind energy and photovoltaic applications, but can potentially be transferred to other areas such as railways, avionics and electric mobility, where converters are also exposed to challenging environmental influences.

The Fraunhofer institutes participating in the power4re project are the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Systems and Device Technology IISB, the Fraunhofer Institute for Microstructure of Materials and Systems IMWS, the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE, the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy Systems IWES (project management) and the Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration IZM. The project is also accompanied by a group of consultants, in which the companies ConverterTec (formerly Woodward Kempen), SMA Solar Technology AG and Mitsubishi Electric R&D Centre Europe are represented.