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2012 - International Conference on Emerging Trends in Science, Engineering and Technology


A Survey of Single Phase Grid Connected

Photovoltaic System



Karpagam University

Govt. College of Technology


Karpgam University
Tamilnadu, India

AbstractThisreview focuses on inverter topologies for Photo

Voltaic (PV) modules, which are connected with single phase grid
systems. Various inverter topologies for PV modules such as (i)
Centralized inverter (ii) String inverter (iii) Multi-string inverter
and their recommended standards, trends, Principle of
integration issues connecting with grid systems are presented in
this review. The centralized and string PV systems have
drawbacks such as losses due to mismatching of PV module, high
voltage DC cables between PV modules and the inverter, limited
power rating of converter unit and additional power losses due to
the string diodes. The solutions for the above stated problems are
overcome by multi string inverter. The different Pulse Width
Modulation (PWM) technique for PV inverter modules is being
presented in this review.

IndexTermsPhotovoltaic module, Inverter topology, Grid

connected system, PWM technique.


As the world is focusing with fossil-fuel exhaustion and

environment problems caused by conventional power
generation, renewable energy is the very popular for the last
two decades. Photovoltaic has been used many in todays life
for many applications because, they have advancing of being
maintained and pollution free [1]. Solar energy demand has
grown constantly by 20-25% per annum, which is mainly due
to decrease in price. The price of the PV module was major
contribution to make system in the past. The cost of the grid
connected inverter is therefore becoming more visible in the
total system price. The cost reduction per watt is therefore
important to make PV generated power more attractive [2].
This paper mainly focuses on the basic concepts of multilevel
inverter topologies, PV inverter topologies, photovoltaic
modules, recommended standards, and their characteristics.

62116 standards that describing international test for inverter

anti islanding are developed in the International Electro
Technical Commission Technical committee 82-Solar
photovoltaic energy systems [4-5]. NEC (National Electrical
Code) standards demands that the PV modules shall be the
system grounded and monitored for ground faults [5-6]. The
current trend across developed economics tips the scale in
favor of renewable energy. For the last three years, the
continents of North America and Europe have embraced more
renewable power capacity as compared to conventional power
capacity. Renewables accounted for 60% of the newly
installed power capacity in Europe in 2009 and nearly 20% of
the annual power production [7]. Wind and biomass occupy a
major share of the current renewable energy consumption.
Recent advancements in solar photovoltaic technology and
constant incubation of projects in countries like Germany and
Spain have brought around tremendous growth in the solar PV
market as well, which is projected to surpass other renewable
energy sources in the future. By 2009, more than 85 countries
had some policy target to achieve a predetermined share of
their power capacity through renewables. This was an increase
from around 45 countries in 2005. Most of the targets are also
very ambitious, landing in the range of 30-90% share of
national production through renewables [7]. Remarkable
policies are the European Unions target of achieving 20% of
total energy through renewables by 2020 and Indias
Jawaharlal Nehru Solar Mission, through which India plans to
produce 20GW solar energy by the year 2022. It is shown in
table 1.
Photovoltaic Module
A model of a PV cell is shown in Fig. 1 and its complete
electrical characteristics of solar cell is illustrated in Fig. 2



Principle of Integration Issue

If the inverter is connected to the grid, user must follow
the standards given by companies. In particular present
standards of PV module are EN61000 and IEC61727 and the
US National Electrical code (NEC) 690 are considered. These
standards deal with issues, like power quality problems,
detection of islanding operation, grounding, etc. Draft IEC

ISBN : 978-1-4673-5144-7/12/$31.00 2012 IEEE

Fig. 1 Equivalent circuit of PV solar cell

2012 - International Conference on Emerging Trends in Science, Engineering and Technology

The PV inverter industry has been influenced by the
developments in the PV module industry where size and peak
power rating of PV module have continuously increased over
the past years. This reduces cost of PV system. The PV
topologies is classified as PV inverter with DC-DC converter,
the configuration of this type of DC-DC converter may be
with isolation or without isolation and PV inverter without
DC-DC converter this may be with isolation or without
isolation. The isolation used in both categories can be made
through transformers that can be placed on either the grid (or)
low frequency side, high frequency side. Line frequency
transformers are important in the system but main
consideration is the size, weight, and cost. HF transformers are
more useful but it requires some special attention.

Fig. 2 V-I Characteristics of PV cell




Energy sources

Fossil fuel




Renewable Energy Power generation

Wind / Solar/ Biomass/Geo thermal power
Bio fuels


Traditional Biomass


Biomass/Solar/Geothermal /heating
Hydro power





Nowadays PV technologies are the mono crystalline and

the multi crystalline silicon modules, which are based on
traditional and expensive microelectronics manufacturing
processes. The voltage range from these PV modules is from
23V to 38V at a power generation approximately 160 Watts
and their open circuit voltage is less than 45V. Thin larger
silicon, amorphous silicon and photo electrical chemical
(PEC) are in new developments [1], [10]. These types of PV
modules can be made arbitrarily large by an inexpensive rollon-roll-off process. The voltage range for these modules is
ground 0.5~1.0 V at several hundred amperes per square meter
cell [8-10]. The basic voltage current equation (V-I)
characteristic of PV model is described by the following


The multilevel inverters have tremendous interest in the

power industry. They present a new set of feature that is well
suited for use in reactive power compensation. It may be
easier to produce a high power and high voltage inverter with
the multilevel structure because of the way in which devices
voltage stress are controlled in the structure. Increasing
number of voltage levels in the inverter without requiring
higher ratings individual devices can increase power rating.
The unique feature structure of multilevel voltage source
inverter allows them to reach high voltages with low
harmonics without the use of transformers or series connected
synchronized switching devices. As the number of voltage
level increases, the harmonics content of the output voltage
waveform decreases significantly.Basically multilevel inverter
topologies are divided into three types (i) Diode clamped
multilevel inverter (ii) Flying capacitor multilevel inverter (iii)
Cascade multilevel inverter. Diode clamped multilevel
inverter three levels neutral point clamped (NPC) inverter is
shown in Fig. 3.


I is the PV cell current in Ampere
IL is the current generated by light in Ampere
Io is the saturation current of diode
Q is the charge of electron
K is the Boltzman constant
T is the temperature of the cell
Rs, Rsh are the series and shunt resistance of the cell
V is the output voltage in volts

ISBN : 978-1-4673-5144-7/12/$31.00 2012 IEEE

Fig. 3 Diode clamped inverter topology

NPC topology was proposed by Nabae et al. [11]. It was the

first widely popular multilevel topology, and it continues to be
mostly used in industrial applications. Afterwards, the NPC
inverter was generalized for a greater number of levels, using
the same concept ofdiode clamped voltage levels, which
resulted in the current designation of a diode clamped

2012 - International Conference on Emerging Trends in Science, Engineering and Technology

converter [12]. The three levelNPC inverter uses capacitors to
generate an intermediate voltage level, and the voltages across
the switches are only half of the dc input voltage.
Applications of diode clamped topology is limited because of
capacitor voltage balancing issues, requiring more number of
clamping diode to make the structure, it will produce the more
losses. Practical diode clamped inverters have been mostly
limited to the original three level structure.


In PV converter topologies, three designs of inverter
families are defined central, module oriented and string
inverter. The central converter connects in parallel and/or in
series on the DC side. One converter is used for entire PV
plant. Configuration of multi-string inverter topology is shown
in Fig. 6.

Fig. 4 Flying capacitor inverter topology

The three level flying capacitor topology, as shown in Fig. 4

can overcome by the drawbacks of diode clamped multilevel
inverter [13], In this topology, additional levels and voltage
clamping are achieved by means of capacitors that float
with respect to the dc source reference. It does not require
additional clamping diodes and provides redundant switch
states that can be used to control the capacitor charge even
under loads with the dc level. Nevertheless, larger structures
require a relatively high number of capacitors, and additional
circuits are also required to initialize the capacitor charge.
Hybrid multilevel inverter topology is to be made of several
H-bridge converters in cascade connection. Fig. 5 shows a two
cell inverter. The cascade topology allows the use of dc
sources with different voltage values, and high resolution
multilevel waveforms can be achieved with a relatively low
number of components [13] In addition, dc sources can be
added or subtracted which can increase the number of output
levels. Although the original cascaded topology requires
several isolated dc sources, in some systems, they may be
available through batteries or PV panels; thus, it has been used
to implement high efficiency transformerless inverters [14].

Fig. 5 Hybrid inverter topology

ISBN : 978-1-4673-5144-7/12/$31.00 2012 IEEE

Fig. 6 Multi-string inverter configuration of PV system

The nominal power of this topology is upto megawatts. The

module oriented converters with several modules usually
connected in series on the DC-side and in parallel on the AC
side. The nominal power rating of PV power plant varies upto
several megawatts. It also requires supervision and produce
lower efficiency than string inverter. The power handling
capacity of the string inverter is low; it is approximately
limited to 2kW. Due to limited voltage capacity of PV
modules it is not suitable to extend the rated power of single
string. General structure of multi-string inverter configuration
is shown in Fig. 6. The solution for the above stated problem
is overcome by multi-string inverter. The attractive features of
the multi-string inverter are the rated power of converter unit
is not limited, reduction the installation and better efficiency.

Centralized Inverter
The centralized inverter technology that interfaced a
large number of PV module were divided into series
connections [16]. These series connections were connected in
parallel with the help of string diodes. The series connections
made a high voltage to avoid further amplification and parallel
combinations of PV modules to achieve high power level.
Today, central inverters are available upto a power level
between 1MW and 2 MW. However this development trend
towards larger and larger inverter is driving higher external
costs. It is shown in Fig. 7. Centralized inverter has some
limitations such as mismatching problem that occur between
the PV modules additional losses due to the presence of string
diodes and power losses due to a centralized MPPT. The grid
connected stage was involving thyristors devices. A basic
characteristic of thyristor devices is commutated by neutral
communication, due to presence of thyristors to introduced

2012 - International Conference on Emerging Trends in Science, Engineering and Technology

current harmonics and power quality problems. These
problems are eliminated by string inverter topology.

Multi-String Inverter

The Multi-string inverter is the further development string

inverter [7], where several strings are in interfaced with their
own DC-DC converter to a common DC-AC inverter. The
multi-string inverter concept [15], [17] has been developed to
combine the advantage of higher energy yield of a string
inverter with the lower cost of a central inverter. In this
topology shown Fig. 9 every string can be controlled
individually. To expand the system within a certain power
range only a new string with a DC/DC converter has to be
included. All DC/DC converters are connected via a DC bus
through a central inverter to the grid.

Fig. 7 Centralized inverter topology


String Inverter
The string inverters are an attractive alternate to central
inverter in PV systems [16]. String topology consists of the
string inverter module. The string topology is an advanced
method of centralized inverter. The input voltage of this
topology may be high enough to avoid voltage amplification
[15]. The basic structure of the string inverter topology is
represented in Fig. 8. The main feature of the string topology
is that there is no losses and individual MPPT can be applied
to the each string which increases the overall system
efficiency and limited price rating due to absence of string
diodes. String inverters of today offer the major advantages of
central inverters such as high DC system voltage range and
three-phased output while maintaining the high efficiencies.

Fig. 9 Multi string inverter topology

The central inverter is a PWM inverter based on the wellknown and cheap GIFT technology already used in drive
systems and includes all supervisory and protection functions.
Depending on the size of the string the input voltage ranges
from 125 to 750 V. The inverter has a maximum power rating
of 5 kW and become available in 2002. Further developments
are easily achieved since a new string with DC-DC converter
can be plugged into existing platform. It is easily designed
with higher operating efficiency can be achieved.

Fig. 8 String inverter topology

This leads to reduced losses inboth AC and DC cabling

assuring higher yield. A large number of maximumpower
point trackers ensure that more power from the panels is
utilized. Additionally, string combiners and external string
monitoring are not required thus making simple cabling

ISBN : 978-1-4673-5144-7/12/$31.00 2012 IEEE

Many pulse width modulation techniques are adapted to

the multilevel inverter topologies. These techniques are most
effective way of controlling for photovoltaic applications. In
order to control the inverter, multi carrier PWM techniques are
presented in [12]. In general, the phase displacement between
any two of adjacent triangular carrier is free, hence number of
combinations can be considered as follows:
The carrier signals are alternatively in opposition
All carrier signals above the zero value reference are
in phase but in opposition with those below.
All carrier signals are in phase.
The multilevel phase opposition multicarrier disposition
method was used to generate the switch gate signals for the
multilevel inverter is presented [12]. The modulation index M a
for a five level inverter is presented [20]

2012 - International Conference on Emerging Trends in Science, Engineering and Technology

Ac is the (Pu) carrier peak to peak value
Am the peak value of the modulating signal.
A novel PWM control scheme for the PV application is
recently presented by J.Selvarj [1]. This control scheme has
two references signal which are identical to each other with an
offset equivalent to the amplitude of carrier signal are used to
generate PWM signals for switches and three reference signals
compare with offset value is possible in feature. Furthermore,
several modulation and control strategies have been developed
or adapted for multilevel inverters, including multilevel
sinusoidal PWM, selective harmonics elimination, and space
vector modulation. [5]
In a novel isolated single phase
inverter with generalized zero vector modulation scheme was
first presented by C.T. Pan and W.C Tu, nevertheless, this
circuit can still only operate in a limited voltage for real time
applications and also reduces overall efficiency of the boost
converter at front end. Solution for the above stated problem
is overcome by newly constructed transformer less five level
multi string inverter topologies for DERs has been presented
in [19].
This survey paper has covered some of the recommended
standard of PV system, principle of integration issues, prices,
world energy scenario and photovoltaic module with their V-I
characteristics. The different multilevel structures such as (i)
Diode clamped (ii) Flying capacitor (iii) Hybrid inverter have
been discussed and also various type of inverter topologies for
PV systems is reviewed. Furthermore various modulation
schemes for grid connected PV system have been discussed in
this review.
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[4] IEEE standard for interconnecting distributed resources with
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[5] National electrical code, National fire protection
association,inc., quincy, MA, 2002.

ISBN : 978-1-4673-5144-7/12/$31.00 2012 IEEE

[6] Grid connection of PV generator: Technical and regulatory

[7] REN 21 Renewables 2010 Global Status Report, 2010.
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