One interesting product development here at SPI -- DC to DC conversion for optimizing string performance. National Semiconductor's Solar Magic product pushes MPP tracking down to the module level. Israeli company, Solar Edge, takes it a step farther, offering an integrated system that includes their own inverter that takes advantage of strings providing output at the optimal voltage to run at peak efficiency.
These are not micro-inverters - it looks like Enphase still has that market to itself (surprisingly) - instead these products allow each panel to operate independently, but still only have DC on the roof. Solar Edge touts that it is installer and firefighter friendly because the panel boxes shut off when the inverter is off and thus, de-energizes the DC run. (Something roof mounted DC disconnects are intended to accomplish, but cannot.)
Too soon to tell whether these products will grow beyond interesting ideas and into mainstream products, but no doubt they would like to catch some of that Enphase magic.
I am here at Solar Power International 2009 in Anaheim and I've just had my first taste of the exhibit floor. Or should I say, floors -- there are three of them at the ground level, plus more upstairs! More than 900 exhibitors on this floor makes it something of an overwhelming experience.
One cool discovery already is a company called Pictometry that is selling high quality images with resolution far greater than Google Earth. They also have some smart looking software that allows for accurate site measurements online. This is part of what is great about this show - the chance to discover new resources that have the potential to make the job easier that you weren't even looking for until you saw it!