Partnerships and Innovation

Office of Partnerships and Innovation
Office of Partnerships and Innovation

Queen’s-developed solar microinverter technology receives North American certification

Article Date: July 8, 2011

KINGSTON, ON – A breakthrough solar photovoltaic technology developed at Queen’s University has been awarded certification for use in North American markets.

The technology, a compact solar microinverter, enables more reliable, efficient power generation from solar PV systems. Microinverters are the heart of solar installations, converting direct current, harvested by the panel, into alternating current compatible with the electric utility grid.

The microinverter has been approved in the U.S. by Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL) and in Canada by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA). The approvals certify that the company’s products meet recognized national standards for safety and performance in North America.

The product of research by Dr. Praveen Jain, Canada Research Chair in Power Electronics, and his team at the ePower Lab at Queen’s, the technology is being commercialized by SPARQ Systems Inc., a startup company of Queen’s University’s PARTEQ Innovations.

“We are thrilled by this milestone. These approvals are the strongest possible endorsement of the quality of our product,” says Dr. Praveen Jain, President and CEO of SPARQ. “With these certifications in hand we are now fully equipped to address the rapidly expanding North American markets.”

“This is a noteworthy achievement that speaks to Queen’s strength in energy conversion technologies and alternative energy research,” says Dr. Steven Liss, Vice-Principal (Research) at Queen’s University. “We look forward to seeing the beneficial impacts of this technology as it is rolled out.”

“The SPARQ technology is a perfect example of a researcher solving a significant industry problem with an elegant solution,” says John Molloy, President and CEO of PARTEQ Innovations. “The solar industry now has a reliable, long-lasting and highly efficient microinverter.”

The product’s design eliminates unreliable components such as electrolytic capacitors, which increases the lifespan of the microinverters threefold, giving homeowners at least 25 years of worry-free performance.

The microinverter produces more alternating (AC) current power from PV panels for longer periods under lower light and partial shading conditions, making them especially well-suited for urban installations.

SPARQ will showcase its newly approved products at Intersolar, North America’s largest solar conference and trade show, in San Francisco, July 12-14.

The company recently partnered with Sanmina-SCI of San Jose, CA, a leading manufacturer of electronic and mechanical products, to produce microinverters and communications hubs for the consumer market. The solar inverters will be produced for the Canadian market at Sanmina-SCI’s Ottawa facility, which is certified for Ontario’s Feed-in Tariff (FIT) program, as well as at Sanmina-SCI’s worldwide regional facilities to meet global demand.

SPARQ is actively pursuing certifications for sale of its products outside North America.

Mary Anne Beaudette
Director, Communications
PARTEQ Innovations