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Nextronex commercializes new solar power conversion system

A solar array gathers sunlight for electricity. But something has to convert that energy from direct current to alternating current before it can be fed into an electric power grid. Toledo-based Nextronex Power Systems says it has come up with a simpler and more efficient way of doing that..

Nextronex's target customers are utility-size solar installations. While competition is stiff, Peter Gerhardinger, the company's chief technology officer, says Nextronex has an advantage over suppliers that provide only inverters -- the box that converts DC to AC.
"They rely on the integrator to determine how he's going to wire it, how he's going to lay it out. And so there's spawned a whole lot of intermediate type products," he says. "We took a fresh approach and, based on customer feedback, decided there's a need for a wiring kit that is not only the inverter, but that combines all the switch gear, all the fusing, all the monitoring into an easy-to-assemble system."

The resulting cabinet is smaller than most in the industry, he says, and can be easily installed. Not just that, but rather than relying on only one big inverter, the Nextronex system uses multiple inverters that switch on and off as energy from the sun ebbs and flows during the day, resulting in less loss of power than typical one-box systems.

Nextronex's system is in use currently at the 180th Air National Guard base in Toledo and at a site in Roswell New Mexico, with another three projects nearing implementation. The company has received $1.4 million local investments, including those from the Science, Technology and Innovation Enterprises and Rocket Ventures, the venture capital arm of the Regional Growth Partnership.

The company was formed in 2008 and currently employs 10, says company founder James Olzak. But Olczak says Netronex expects to have "greater than several dozen people next year at this time."

Sources: James Olzak, Peter Gerhardinger and Scott Thompson, Nextronex
Writer: Gene Monteith
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