Review of Power Electronics Interfaces for Distributed Energy Systems towards Achieving Low-Cost Modular Design

Sudipta Chakraborty, Bill Kramer, Benjamin Kroposki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

133 Scopus Citations


Due to increased attention towards clean and sustainable energy, distributed energy (DE) systems are gaining popularity all over the world. Power electronics are an integral part of these energy systems being able to convert generated electricity into consumer usable and utility compatible forms. But the addition of power electronics adds costs to the DE capital investments along with some reliability issues. Therefore, widespread use of distributed energy requires power electronics topologies that are less expensive and more dependable. Use of modular power electronics is a way to address these issues. Adoption of functional building blocks that can be used for multiple applications results in high volume production and reduced engineering effort, design testing, onsite installation and maintenance work for specific customer applications. In this paper, different power electronics topologies are reviewed that are typically used with distributed energy systems. The integrated power electronics module (IPEM) based back-to-back converter topologies are found to be most suitable interface that can operate with different DE systems with small or no modifications. Also the requirements for a hierarchical control structure with standardized power and communication interfaces are addressed in the paper along with some discussion on future design possibilities for the IPEM-based power electronics topologies. It is expected that modular and flexible power electronics and standardized controls and interfaces, will provide commonality in hardware and software for the power electronics interfaces, thus will enable their volume production and decrease their cost share in distributed energy applications.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)2323-2335
Number of pages13
JournalRenewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
Issue number9
StatePublished - Dec 2009

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-550-46149


  • Distributed energy
  • Integrated power electronics modules
  • Modularity
  • Power electronics interface


Dive into the research topics of 'Review of Power Electronics Interfaces for Distributed Energy Systems towards Achieving Low-Cost Modular Design'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this