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Solar Energy 84 (2010) 19851996 www.elsevier.com/locate/solener

Hybrid photovoltaic/thermal (PV/T) solar systems simulation with Simulink/Matlab

R.M. da Silva , J.L.M. Fernandes
cnico, Av. Rovisco Pais, 1049-001 Lisbon, Portugal Department of Mechanical Engineering, Instituto Superior Te Received 14 December 2009; received in revised form 3 September 2010; accepted 4 October 2010 Available online 1 November 2010 Communicated by: Associate Editor Arturo Morales-Acevedo

Abstract The purpose of this work consists in thermodynamic modeling of hybrid photovoltaicthermal (PV/T) solar systems, pursuing a modular strategy approach provided by Simulink/Matlab. PV/T solar systems are a recently emerging solar technology that allows for the simultaneous conversion of solar energy into both electricity and heat. This type of technology present some interesting advantages over the conventional side-by-side thermal and PV solar systems, such as higher combined electrical/thermal energy outputs per unit area, and a more uniform and aesthetical pleasant roof area. Despite the fact that early research on PV/T systems can be traced back to the seventies, only recently it has gained a renewed impetus. In this work, parametric studies and annual transient simulations of PV/T systems are undertaken in Simulink/Matlab. The obtained results show an average annual solar fraction of 67%, and a global overall eciency of 24% (i.e. 15% thermal and 9% electrical), for a typical four-person single-familiar residency in Lisbon, with p-Si cells, and a collector area of 6 m2. A sensitivity analysis performed on the PV/T collector suggests that the most important variable that should be addressed to improve thermal performance is the photovoltaic (PV) module emittance. Based on those results, some additional improvements are proposed, such as the use of vacuum, or a noble gas at low-pressure, to allow for the removal of PV cells encapsulation without air oxidation and degradation, and thus reducing the PV module emittance. Preliminary results show that this option allows for an 8% increase on optical thermal eciency, and a substantial reduction of thermal losses, suggesting the possibility of working at higher uid temperatures. The higher working temperatures negative eect in electrical eciency was negligible, due to compensation by improved optical properties. The simulation results are compared with experimental data obtained from other authors and perform reasonably well. The Simulink modeling platform has been mainly used worldwide on simulation of control systems, digital signal processing and electric circuits, but there are very few examples of application to solar energy systems modeling. This work uses the modular environment of Simulink/Matlab to model individual PV/T system components, and to assemble the entire installation layout. The results show that the modular approach strategy provided by Matlab/Simulink environment is applicable to solar systems modeling, providing good code scalability, faster developing time, and simpler integration with external computational tools, when compared with traditional imperativeoriented programming languages. 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Hybrid solar collector; Photovoltaic/thermal; Transient simulations; Simulink; Matlab

1. Introduction Hybrid PV/T collectors are devices that simultaneous convert solar radiation into electricity and heat through
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E-mail address: rickmps@hotmail.com (R.M. da Silva). 0038-092X/$ - see front matter 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.solener.2010.10.004

the combination of both photovoltaic and thermal technology. They typically consist on a thermal absorber attached to the back of a photovoltaic (PV) module as shown in Fig. 1. The PV module converts part of the incident solar radiation into electricity, and the remaining fraction is conducted through a thermal absorber to a circulating uid for use in thermal applications (e.g., hot water, space heating),


R.M. da Silva, J.L.M. Fernandes / Solar Energy 84 (2010) 19851996

Nomenclature collector model collector area, m2 specic heat of collector components, J kg1 K1 solar irradiance, W m2 mass of collector components, kg temperature of glass cover, K temperature of PV module, K temperature of absorber n, K temperature of absorber n connection to tube, K T5 average temperature of circulating water, K Tsky temperature of the sky, K Tfin uid inlet temperature, K Tfout uid outlet temperature, K a photovoltaic module absorptance qd reectance associated with diuse radiation gcel photovoltaic cells eciency ge electric eciency s glass cover transmittance sa transmittanceabsorptance product Tank model At tank internal cross-sectional area, m2 Am mantle internal cross-sectional area, m2 PV/T A Cpi G mi T1 T2 T3 T4 water specic heat, J kg1 K1 water thermal conductivity, W m1 K1 water temperature in the tank, K water temperature in the mantle, K ambient temperature, K tank water vertical velocity, m s1 mantle water vertical velocity, m s1 tank perimeter, m internal overall heat transfer coecient, W m2 K1 Uext external overall heat transfer coecient, W m2 K1 q water specic mass, kg m3 qTin water specic mass at inlet, kg m3 me eective inlet velocity, m s1 re eective inlet radius, m hmax inlet turbulent zone maximum height, m Abbreviations PV/T photovoltaic/thermal m-Si monocrystalline cells p-Si polycrystalline cells a-Si amorphous cells Cp K Tt Tm Tamb u um P Uint

Charalambous et al. (2006). The motivation force behind the development of this solar technology is the fact that current state-of-the-art photovoltaic technology has a major inherent drawback on its inability to absorb solar energy within the full radiation spectrum range. This fact causes PV solar cells to obtain relatively low eciencies, since the most part of the incident energy is rejected to the surrounding environment in the form of heat. Hybrid solar collectors harvest this otherwise rejected heat, and thus increase the combined thermal and electrical power yield. Though early research articles on PV/T systems can be dated back to the seventies, Kern et al. (1978) and Florschuetz (1979), they have gained a renewed interest recently and, with substantial initiatives taken in order to reduce their cost, it is expected that they become increasingly attractive in the future. In the present work, the integrated Simulink/Matlab environment is employed to thermodynamically model a hybrid solar plant layout, pursuing a modular-block modeling strategy. Simulink is a platform initially created for multidomain simulation and model-based design of dynamic systems, Mathworks (2009). This fact allows for a great exibility on the range of applicable possibilities to model. Nevertheless it has been used mainly in simulating control systems, digital signal processing, and electric circuits, and there are very few available examples of transient thermodynamic modeling of solar systems, or even uid network analysis. In the present study the individual system components are modeled through Simulink

S-functions, which allow for time integration of the non-linear time-dependent resulting dierential equations system. Other modeling approaches could be pursued as well. It has been argued that higher level modeling approaches based, for instance, on the use of the object-oriented and acausal modeling language Modelica, or on the use of the standard object-oriented and acausal modeling framework Ecosim-Pro could be viable and better alternatives. However, object-oriented programming and acausal modeling are already supported in current versions of Matlab/Simulink environment via the Simscape language. This option avoids the so-called algebraic loop problem, it allows a more natural physical modeling and building libraries with reusable component models and systems. Also, all Matlab available toolboxes can be used whenever necessary. Of particular interest is the parallel computing toolbox which allows multicore and multiprocessor computer capabilities to be fully exploited. In Section 2 mathematical models for the diverse individual primary components are presented. These include the PV/T collector model, the hot water thermal storage stratied tank model, and the solar radiation input model. In Section 3 the system layout model on Simulink is presented. In Section 4 simulations and parametric studies are conducted on individual components to identify which key-features play the most relevant role in thermal performance. Detailed parametric and sensitivity studies are conducted in the PV/T collector to assess the possibility for additional improvements in the collector eciency by the

R.M. da Silva, J.L.M. Fernandes / Solar Energy 84 (2010) 19851996


Fig. 1. Typical sheet-and-tube PV/T collector.

use of vacuum and removal of the PV glass encapsulation. In this section the individual components simulation results obtained in Matlab/Simulink are compared with experimental data obtained from other authors. In Section 5 the annual simulation overall results for a PV/T solar entire system performance on a temperate region country (Portugal), and on an equatorial country (Cabo-Verde), are presented and compared. 2. Individual component models 2.1. PV/T collector 2.1.1. PV/T collector designs The PV/T collector is the solar plant component responsible for capturing solar radiation and converting it into electricity and heat. A typical hybrid PV/T collector consists in a PV module attached to a thermal absorber (see Fig. 1). The purpose of the absorber is to cool down the panel and conduct the PV rejected heat to the cooling uid. This heat can be used in applications that require low-temperature heat (e.g., sanitary hot water, or swimming pool heating). PV/T collectors can be classied according to the cooling uid used, and are usually divided into watercollectors and air-collectors. The former are more usual, due to their greater eciency, while the latter are mostly used in air pre-heating, cooling, ventilation, Chow et al. (2007). Among the several water-cooled collector models available, the sheet-and-tube design is considered the most promising one, since it is the cheapest to build, while its eciency is only slightly lower than the remaining ones. Within the sheet-and-tube category, the glass-covered collector obtains the largest thermal eciencies and highest uid temperatures, revealing itself as the most suitable one for sanitary hot water market, Zondag et al. (2004). Since domestic sanitary hot water applications will represent the most promising market for PV/T solar plants, this was the design chosen for modeling purposes in the present work. 2.1.2. Flat plate collector model Optical model. To conveniently describe a hybrid collector, both an optical model and an energetic model should be addressed. The optical model developed is based on Fresnel laws and takes in consideration the dierent col-

lector properties that are associated with each of the individual solar radiation components, and their dependence on the radiation incidence angle. The combined transmittanceabsorptance (sa) of the glass cover and absorber system is obtained from sa sa 1 1 1 a q d where qd represents the internal diuse radiation reection coecient. Energetic model. In the energetic model, according to Zondag et al. (2005), one-dimensional models provide a satisfactory degree of precision, when compared with more complex models. Following this premises, a uni-dimensional transient model was developed by imposing conservation of energy in each of the individual collector components. This results in a set of non-linear transient rst order dierential equations. The locations of temperatures Ti are shown in Fig. 1 The energy balance to the glass cover gives m1 Cp1 dT 1 4 C 11 T 1 T amb C 12 T 4 1 T sky dt C 13 T 2 T 1 dT 2 4 C 21 G C 22 T 2 T 1 C 23 T 4 2 T 1 dt C 24 ge G C 25 T 2 T 3 C 25 T 2 T 4 dT 3 C 31 T 2 T 3 C 32 T 4 6 T amb dt   K 1 T 2 K 2 T amb C 33 T 4 K3

The energy balance to the PV module results in m2 Cp2

The energy balance to the absorber n gives m3 Cp3

The energy balance to the absorber connection to the circulation tubes gives m4 Cp4 dT 4 C 41 T 2 T 4 C 42 T 4 T 5 dt   K 1 T 2 K 2 T amb C 33 T 4 K3

The energy balance to the circulating uid in the tubes gives


R.M. da Silva, J.L.M. Fernandes / Solar Energy 84 (2010) 19851996

m5 Cp5

dT 5 C 51 T 4 T 5 C 52 2T 5 T fin dt

where T5 represents the uid medium temperature given by T5 T out T in 2 7

this factor has an impact on the performance of the tank in the order of 3%. The energy equation in the tank gives qCp @T t @ 2 T t U int P @T t k 2 T m T t uqCp At @t @x @x U ext P T t T amb At

The parameters Cij and Ki are constants used to simplify the expressions and are non-temperature dependence properties obtained from collector geometric values, optical properties, and heat transfer coecients. The electrical and thermal eciencies are given by ge gcel sg mC p T out T fin gt G 8 9


The energy equation for the heat exchanger uid is similar to the tank, with the only dierence that the axial conduction term along the uid will not be taken in consideration, due to the small cross-sectional area. The resulting equation is qCp @ T m U int P @ T m U ext P T t T m um qCp Am Am @t @x T m T amb 11

2.2. Storage tank 2.2.1. Mantle tank The option for energy storage chosen for the vast majority of domestic solar plants is the stratied thermal storage tank, due to its simplicity and low cost. One of the most competitive designs for sanitary hot water market is the stratied hot-water tank with mantle heat exchanger (Han et al., 2008). In this type of design, the heat exchanger is incorporated into the storage tank (see Fig. 2), ensuring simplicity, small size and high stratication level at low cost. Since the sanitary hot water applications may represent the major potential market for PV/T solar plants (Zondag et al., 2005), this was the design chosen for modeling purposes in the present study. 2.2.2. Tank model In the tank model, it is assumed that the ow in the interior is unidimensional (piston-like or plug ow). This approximation is reasonable in most part of the tank domain, being less precise in the areas near the inlet and outlet. The non-stationary terms of the uid temperature in the tank and heat exchanger are included. The losses to the environment through the top, bottom and lateral walls are also included. The advection energy transferences are not considered since, accordingly to Baur et al. (1993), they tend to overestimate in no ow periods by two orders of magnitude. The convection between the tank and heat exchanger is modeled by empirical correlations obtained for the mantle tank. The axial conduction in the walls of the tank is included since it destroys the stratication (Baur et al., 1993). In the mantle side, the axial conduction term is not considered since the cross-sectional area is very small when compared with the area of the tank. Radial conduction is not considered since is very small when compared with the other heat transfer mechanisms. In both the consumer and heat exchanger side the enthalpy terms are included. The diusion due to turbulent mixing in the entry zone is also included. Accordingly to Jordan et al. (2004)

To model the heat transfer between the heat exchanger and the tank a correlation proposed by Baur et al. (1993) is used. This correlation considers heat transfer between two at plates with perfect insulation in one side, and constant heat ux in the other. 1:2 h 0:0606 RePrD x Nux 4:9 12 0:7 0:1 h 1 0:0909 RePrD Pr x To apply this correlation to a mantle heat exchanger Baur et al. (1993) suggests that a correction factor of C = 1.7 should be used, resulting in the following equation U int C kNu Dh 13

Fig. 2. Stratied hot-water tank with mantle heat exchanger.

R.M. da Silva, J.L.M. Fernandes / Solar Energy 84 (2010) 19851996


For the other internal heat convections coecients, the approximations made by Baur et al. (1993) were used. Following this premises, a global transmission coecient of 2000 W/m2 K for the tank internal convection coecient is considered, which in practice eliminates this heat resistance. The turbulent diusion coecient in the entrance region is accounted by an eective diusion coecient ee, and his variation along the tank height is given by the following correlations proposed by Zurigat et al. (2001). eeff A A B N st ein eff 1 1 N1st 14 15 16

to natures intrinsic non-deterministic characteristics. Therefore a semi-empirical meteorological model may be a reasonable commitment between the necessity of generalization provided by a pure analytic approach, and the realism provided by experimental data. In the present work a semi-empiric model based on external monthly-averaged climatologically data is combined with analytical expressions in order to determine daily and/or hourly values. The averaged monthly radiation data is obtained from external data sources (Meteonorm, P-Clima) and the hourly values in the collectors tilted plane is calculated with the so-called HDKR model (Hay, Davies, Klucher and Reindl), Due and Beckman (1981). 3. System model The installation layout was assembled in the integrated environment of Matlab/Simulink through the use of Sfunctions (application programming interfaces) in a block-oriented modeling philosophy, and consists in a PV/T collector, storage tank, controller, radiation, and consumption blocks. The SystemTest application is used to automate the testing routines, and the Matlab Distributed Computing Server application allowed us to distribute the various tests over a low-cost cluster in a short time basis. The dataow, communications, and platform integration philosophy is presented in Fig. 3. Since most of the PV/T systems are expected to provide electricity to the public grid, an inverter was also introduced to convert DC current into AC. A typical average eciency of 90% was considered. To reach the desired consume temperature, and also to provide thermal backup in the days of low-radiation, a natural gas boiler was introduced. 4. Simulations 4.1. PV/T collector simulation 4.1.1. Performance In the hybrid collector simulation, it was veried that the covered sheet-and-tube design obtains an overall eciency of 67% (see Fig. 4). In an economical perspective approach it is expected that the monocrystalline-Si (with 52% electrical eciency and 15% thermal eciency) collectors become the most competitive due to the superior revenue associated with the electrical component. The main factors responsible for the lower thermal eciency of a hybrid collector when compared with a thermal collector were identied. Among these, there is the energy that is redirected to the electrical production, the inferior optical properties (lower absorptance, and higher emittance), the reection losses in the encapsulation and the additional thermal resistance created by the adhesive. The lower electrical eciency when compared to a photovoltaic collector is due to the optical losses in the glass cover.

B ein eff A

where Nst represents the layer number, and the turbulent diusion coecient in the inlet region ein eff for side, perforate disc, and impingement inlet is given respectively by  0:894 Re 0 : 344 17 ein eff Ri  0:586 Re in eeff 3:54 18 Ri  0:522 Re ein 4 : 75 19 eff Ri Due to thermal stratication of the hot water, an average temperature is assumed, which is calculated from the inlet to the maximum mixing height. To calculate the mixing height, an approximation followed by Jordan et al. (2004) is used, where it is assumed that the buoyancy forces of inverted uid layers equal the uid inertial forces due to the inlet velocity. The resulting equations are 1  storehmax g hmax q m2 qTin rho 20 2 Tin eff _ m meff 21 qTin p r2 eff The uid velocity is substituted by an eective velocity me, which accounts for the velocity reduction in the inlet _ represents the mass ow rate, qTin represents device, m the uid density at the inlet and re the entrance eective radius. In case of inverted temperature layers it is assumed that they mix together. A nite dierence method is used to perform the integration of the resulting system of dierential equations. In order to avoid instabilities in large time steps, the rst derivative is discretized with upwind regressive dierences, and the second derivative with central differences. The time integration is performed on the Simulink environment and a Courant number inferior to 0.5 was used to avoid numerical diusion. 2.3. Solar radiation model Meteorological conditions at a particular location are very dicult to predict with pure analytical models, due


R.M. da Silva, J.L.M. Fernandes / Solar Energy 84 (2010) 19851996

Fig. 3. Integrated simulation platform philosophy.

Fig. 4. Thermal and electrical eciencies m-Si: monocrystalline cells, p-Si: polycrystalline cells, a-Si: amorphous cells.

4.1.2. Sensitivity analysis A sensitivity analysis showed that the most important factor in the heat losses is the emittance of the solar cells (see Fig. 5).

It was veried that the thermal characteristics of the adhesive and a ow regime have a signicant impact in the overall eciency and should be taken in consideration during the optimization of a hybrid solar system. It was also

R.M. da Silva, J.L.M. Fernandes / Solar Energy 84 (2010) 19851996


Fig. 5. Sensitivity analysis on PV/T thermal performance.

observed that by not considering the angular dependence of optical properties associated with the components of the radiation other than the direct, there can be an overestimation on electrical and thermal eciencies in the order of 2%. 4.1.3. PV/T with vacuum insulation The introduction of vacuum between the cells and the glass cover reduces thermal losses. With this option there is also a possibility that the encapsulation of the PV module could be removed, since there is less risk of cell degradation due to air contact. This decreases signicantly the PV module radiation losses since the exposed cells have signicantly lower emissivities (%0.35) when compared with the encapsulation glass (%0.9). The studies conducted showed that this option allows for an 8% increase in the thermal eciency while the electrical eciency remains approximately unaltered, due to the increased optical performance (see Fig. 6). The use of vacuum also reduces the design mass ow rate promoting the use of low-ow regimes. This kind of systems is used in several European countries and is characterized by having ow regimes decreased by factors of 510, using specic ow rates of 715 l/(h m2) instead of the traditional 5070 l/(h m2). His principal advantage is the size reduction of some components e.g. pipes, valves, exchangers (Kenjo et al., 2003). One fact that should be taken in consideration is that the use of vacuum can induce very high temperatures in the collector components. This fact implies an increase on the components robustness and a higher degree of control to avoid material degradation during stagnation conditions. 4.1.4. Installation area requirements In a comparison between a solar hybrid system and a separated thermal and electrical system for a xed area of installation, it was veried that the PV/T option acquires a clear advantage. For a monocrystalline collector, if one pretends to obtain the same thermal and electric yield, it would require

an additional 60% of installation area. This fact suggests that the hybrid solar system becomes very competitive in situations where the installation area limited (e.g. top of buildings). 4.1.5. Comparison with experimental data The simulation results were compared with experimental data obtained by Zondag et al., showing a good agreement, with an error inferior to 2%, in the whole temperature range (see Fig. 7). 4.2. Mantle tank simulation 4.2.1. Performance It was veried that the mantle tank can provide thermal stratication during operation. In the stand-by operation mode it was found that the storage tank keeps roughly 80% of its thermal energy during 24 h, decreasing to about 70% after 2 days. A sensitivity analysis has shown that a reduction in half of the heat conduction to the exterior, allowed an increase on energy eciency of 8% after one day, and 12% after 2 days. Fig. 8 shows the performance of a tank over the time where U stands for the global heat transmission coecient to exterior. Parametric studies were made to assess the inuence of certain parameters onto the energy and exergy performance of the storage tank during several possible operation modes. We conrmed that a second law analysis yields more information about the tank performance, when compared with a rst law analysis, since it also quanties energy quality degradation. During the discharge operation mode, mass ow regime, and the inlet device conguration have a signicant impact on the stratication. An analysis of the discharge exergy eciency led to the conclusion that the exergy loss occurring due to a complete extraction ranges from 15% to 30%, depending on the inlet device and the mass ow rate. This fact shows how important are


R.M. da Silva, J.L.M. Fernandes / Solar Energy 84 (2010) 19851996

Fig. 6. Performance of a PV/T collector with vacuum thermal insulation.

Fig. 7. PV/T model validation with experimental data.

Fig. 8. Deposit thermal performance.

R.M. da Silva, J.L.M. Fernandes / Solar Energy 84 (2010) 19851996


Fig. 9. Tank model validation with experimental data.

Fig. 10. Adjustment of orientation for maximum energetic output.

Fig. 11. Solar tracking potential.


R.M. da Silva, J.L.M. Fernandes / Solar Energy 84 (2010) 19851996

discharge strategies that minimize stratication destruction, such as the inclusion of thermo-mixing valves into the hot water circuit. 4.2.2. Tank model validation Comparisons were made with experimental data obtained by Baur et al. (1993), A good agreement was found for the heating mode, while for a combined heating / discharge mode a reasonable agreement was obtained. In the gure below the variables T1T7 represent the water tank temperatures from bottom to the top at equally distanced nodes. In the experiment the tank is heated with a constant mantle inlet ow rate which causes the stratied temperature increase shown in Fig. 9. At t = 1 h and t = 3.5 h the tank heating is combined with two sudden draws that cause the sharp temperature decreases. At t = 6.5 h the mantle inlet temperature is reduced to 30 causing the decrease in tank temperatures, due to the fact that the tank starts to transfer heat to the mantle. The results obtained are consistent with the results obtained by Baur et al. (1993). 4.3. Solar radiation simulation 4.3.1. Orientation adjustment Sensitivity studies were conducted with respect to the collector orientation. It was veried that for the Portuguese climate, lower collector inclinations favor the hot seasons performance (useful for pool heating) while higher angles favor the colder seasons performance (useful for space heating). The best annual inclination angle obtained for the city of Lisbon is 32, and the best azimuth is 0 south. Fig. 10 shows the solar collector orientation that maximizes the energetic output for a particular season. 4.3.2. Solar tracking The potential of solar tracking was studied, concluding that in comparison to the steady system, the one-axis sys-

tems allow for an increase of 5% for variable inclination, and 25% for variable azimuth, while the two-axis tracking provides a 39% increase (see Fig. 11). In a general way, one may conclude that solar tracking acquires more potential in locations where the direct radiation percentage is relatively high. Nevertheless some simple inexpensive procedures can be applied to xed systems, such as seasonal inclination adjustment routines included in the typical maintenance procedures. 5. Global annual simulation 5.1. Global annual performance Annual simulations show that the average solar fraction obtained for a four-person single-familiar residency in Lisbon and a p-Si cell collector area of 6 m2, is 67%, with an average global energy eciency of 25% (15% thermal and 9% electrical) (see Fig. 12). A sensitivity analysis showed that one of the most significant external variables in the optimization of PV/T systems is the load-consumption prole (see Fig. 13). This fact creates a great challenge for optimization procedures, and control strategies, since domestic hot water consumption requirements and distribution, are dicult parameter to estimate, and are often based on rough approximations. 5.2. Comparison between an equatorial and temperate country The solar fraction dierence from load-consumption proles concentrated in the initial part of the day to load-consumption proles concentrated in the end part of the day can amount up to 15%. A simulation of the hybrid system performance in an equatorial country (Cabo-Verde) was also made. It was concluded that these systems do have a

Fig. 12. Annual performance.

R.M. da Silva, J.L.M. Fernandes / Solar Energy 84 (2010) 19851996


Fig. 13. PV/T system performance in Portugal for dierent consume proles.

Fig. 14. PV/T system performance in Cabo-Verde.

greater potential in such countries (increase of the solar fraction up to 92% and overall eciency to 27%) (see Fig. 14). 6. Conclusions It has been demonstrated that hybrid PV/T systems can conveniently replace conventional solar thermal systems in hot water supply. The results obtained showed a solar fraction of 67%, obtained for a four-person single-familiar residency in Lisbon, a p-Si cell PV/T collector area of 6 m2, and a global annual energy eciency of 24% (15% thermal and 9% electrical). A comparison between a solar PV/T system and a separated thermal and electrical system, for a xed area of installation, showed that the PV/T option acquires a signicant advantage in combined output of electricity and heat. For a PV/T with m-Si cells collector, if one intends to obtain the same thermal and electric yield with separated PV plus thermal solar modules, it would require an additional 60% of installation area. It should

also be emphasized that the economical revenues associated with electricity production are higher then with lowtemperature heat. A sensitivity analysis performed on the PV/T collector suggests that the most important parameter that should be addressed in the thermal performance optimization is the PV module emittance. Based on these results, some suggestions to improve the thermal performance of the PV/T collector were made. One interesting possibility proposed in this study is that the collector encloses vacuum or a rare (noble) gas at low-pressure, which allows for the removal of inner cell glass encapsulation, in order to reduce their emissivity and optical losses by reection. The preliminary results obtained reveal that this option generates a considerable increase in optical thermal eciency, a reduction on thermal losses and higher uid working temperatures. The electrical performance decrease due to higher cell temperature was negligible, due to the optical properties increase by removal of the glass encapsulation. These gures suggest that it could be


R.M. da Silva, J.L.M. Fernandes / Solar Energy 84 (2010) 19851996

an interesting possibility to supply heat for industrial process heat applications, due to the huge energetic market that this sector represents. However, subsequent studies should be addressed to establish if signicant materials thermal degradation occurs at high-temperature operation. From an annual global performance point-of-view, we conclude that one of the most inuential parameters in optimization of a PV/T system is the load-consumption prole estimation. A simulation of a PV/T system on an equatorial country (Cabo-Verde) was also made. It was concluded that these systems do have a greater potential in such countries. The thermodynamic modular modeling approach based on Simulink/Matlab and applied to solar PV/T systems has demonstrated that this kind of strategy provides a useful and multi-purpose tool for systems modeling. This advantage allows a simpler study of several design options, component layouts, control strategies, and dierent consumption (load) scenarios with a subsequent faster integration with external tools. An additional integration possibility that has been addressed on the most intensive tasks within this work is the parallelization of test routines, linking SystemTest, with Matlab Distributed Computing Server, and Matlab/Simulink APIs. This kind of strategy simplied the process of creating a low-cost Beowulf cluster, to use on the most computational intensive simulations. On a future analysis of PV/T solar systems, an economic optimization could be carried out, which takes into account xed costs, variable costs and the economical revenues associated to each energy component produced (heat and electricity). Further experimental work should be carried out to assess the performance of the vacuum PV/T collector.

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