System efficiency and cost effectiveness are of critical importance for photovoltaic (PV) systems. This paper addresses the two issues by developing a novel three-port DC-DC converter for stand-alone PV systems, based on an improved Flyback-Forward topology. It provides a compact single-unit solution with a combined feature of optimized maximum power point tracking (MPPT), high step-up ratio, galvanic isolation and multiple operating modes for domestic and aerospace applications. A theoretical analysis is conducted to analyze the operating modes followed by simulation and experimental work. The paper is focused on a comprehensive modulation strategy utilizing both PWM and phase-shifted control that satisfies the requirement of PV power systems to achieve MPPT and output voltage regulation. A 250 W converter was designed and prototyped to provide experimental verification in term of system integration and high conversion efficiency.