SunPower snaps up microinverter startup SolarBridge


SunPower, the solar panel maker and project developer majority-owned by oil giant Total, announced Monday that it has acquired SolarBridge, a venture capital-backed startup that makes microinverters for solar panels. Microinverters are miniature versions of conventional central solar inverters that are necessary for converting the direct current generated by solar panels into alternating current that feeds into the grid or is used by the building or onsite.

Microinverters emerged as a new, and disruptive, form of solar inverter several years ago. Instead of matching a central inverter to a dozen panels at a time, a much smaller microinverter can serve, and be embedded on, just one panel. This design allows the microinverters to calculate and adjust the optimal energy output of each solar panel and can prevent poor-performing panels from affecting the power output of the best-performing ones. Another startup called Enphase Energy, which went public in early 2012

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