SensusEnergy: Your Home as a Power Plant

The INHALE chips of new business SensusEnergy, provide a direct response to the EU’s 20-20-20 targets. The chips make it possible to substantially increase the energy output from photovoltaic installations in locations that have up until now been unprofitable, while they also contribute to the phasing out of fossil fuels. What’s more, the entire photovoltaic installation is made more profitable as some of its components can now be made more simply and more economically, with parts even becoming unnecessary. Currently, SensusEnergy is still a two-person company, but with the help of KIC InnoEnergy everything can change fast.

 SensusEnergy makes solar cells in façades a reality The INHALE chips of new business SensusEnergy, provide a direct response to the EU’s 20-20-20 targets. The chips make it possible to substantially increase the energy output from photovoltaic installations in locations that have up until now been unprofitable, while they also contribute to the phasing out of fossil fuels. What’s more, the entire photovoltaic installation is made more profitable as some of its components can now be made more simply and more economically, with parts even becoming unnecessary. Currently, SensusEnergy is still a two-person company, but with the help of KIC InnoEnergy everything can change fast. A complementary team on The KIC InnoEnergy Highway® SensusEnergy is managed by the perfect tandem: Callie Peters has skills in a range of disciplines, including electronics, mechanics, pneumatics and hydraulics, and can develop the best solutions by drawing on all these fields. This inventor, brimming with innovative ideas and solutions, found his ideal business partner in Rolf Huiberts, a natural-born manager with a knack for business, who knows how to inspire others to come up with novel ideas. Rolf and Callie met in 2010 and soon discovered that they shared the same philosophy. Now, thanks to their exemplary teamwork, they have no fewer than two projects on the KIC InnoEnergy Highway®, the INHALE chip and a climatic system. Of these two, INHALE is the more advanced of the projects. Both men are working hard, day in and day out, to place their idea successfully on the European market. The key to this success: from series to parallel “In order to generate an adequate electrical charge on a solar panel, traditionally 60 to 72 individual cells are connected to one another in series,” says Rolf of their product. “But we all know how those Christmas lights work: if even a single bulb fails, none of the other bulbs will light up. Solar panels that use in-series connections work the same way. All cells which are connected in series assume the charge of the weakest cell. The slightest speck of dirt on a solar panel can dramatically reduce its energy output.” The INHALE technology created by SensusEnergy eliminates the need to connect solar cells in series. The chip is able to generate the desired ratio of current to tension from each cell. This makes a parallel connection perfectly possible, with each cell generating an optimal charge at all times – even those cells which find themselves under a shadow. Solar energy as a building material for your home or office “In addition to traditional solar panels,” says Rolf, “INHALE also offers the potential for an entirely new market. Owners and architects are in search of more decorative alternatives for the use of solar panels, such as incorporating photovoltaic cells into roof tiles, walls, or – why not? – windows. But as long as the earth continues to rotate, it will be awfully difficult to keep walls completely shadow-free. So the future of ‘building-integrated PV’ can only benefit from a technology that is capable of making solar panels impervious to the effects of shadows.” One technology, many benefits Solar inverters also stand to benefit from this technology. An inverter is a device which converts the current output of a solar panel (direct current, or DC) into electricity (alternating current, or AC). Because the amp levels sent by the photovoltaic cells to the inverters are high, these inverters consist, to a large extent, of expensive power electronics with a limited lifespan. The INHALE technology, however, increases the tension (volts) and reduces the amount of current (amps) flowing from the solar cells, and in the process makes power electronics unnecessary in inverters. In turn, inverters become quite a bit cheaper and more durable, and perhaps even redundant. “It is the increase in output that makes INHALE so unique,” says Jan Caris, the team’s business coach on the KIC InnoEnergy Highway. “By always harvesting the highest output for each individual cell, this technology goes further than any other existing solution. Of course, the question remains as to whether the technology is best applied to each cell individually or, let’s say, to a combination of three cells: that’s a matter of cost versus yield.” Download this story as .pdf