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Applied Thermal Engineering 31 (2011) 3369e3376

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Applied Thermal Engineering


journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/apthermeng

Comparative experiment study on photovoltaic and thermal solar system under


natural circulation of water
Wei He*, Yang Zhang, Jie Ji
Department of Thermal Science and Energy Engineering, University of Science and Technology of China, Jinzhai Road 96#, Hefei City, Anhui Province, PR China

a r t i c l e i n f o

a b s t r a c t

Article history:
Received 11 January 2011
Accepted 10 June 2011
Available online 6 July 2011

The hybrid photovoltaic and thermal (PV/T) system can utilize solar energy more effectively and has
a higher total efciency compared with a traditional solar collecting system and a photovoltaic (PV)
module. However, there is limited experimental data on how much energy the PV/T system can save
when operating with same area of a PV plate and a solar collector simultaneously. In this paper,
a comparative test rig had been set up to measure and analyze the performance of PV/T system. There
were monocrystalline silicon PV/T solar collector, a traditional solar collector and a monocrystalline
silicon photovoltaic plate. The PV/T collector and the traditional solar collector had the same collecting
areas and solar cell covered area of the PV/T collector was the same as the area of the photovoltaic plate.
The experimental results showed that the daily thermal efciency of PV/T system was about 40%, which
was about 75% of that for a traditional solar thermosiphon system, and the daily average electrical
efciency was found about 10%, which was a little lower than the photovoltaic module. But primaryenergy saving efciency of the PV/T system was much higher than that of the individual PV plate and
the traditional solar collector.
2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Keywords:
PV/T system
Comparative experiment
Thermal efciency
Electrical efciency
Primary-energy saving efciency

1. Introduction
Since the rst silicon solar cell was developed in Bell laboratory
by Chapin et al. [1], solar cells have received extensive interest due
to its simple structure, stable stability, purity and long service time,
and their efciency has increased constantly. However, in practical
application the efciency of the solar cell is much lower than that in
standard condition (The radiation density is 1000 W/m2 and the
temperature of solar cell is 25  C) because of the higher temperature of solar cell which decreases the efciency.
In order to utilize the solar cell at a low operating temperature,
researchers focus on cooling of the solar cell and then take
advantage of the heat dissipated from the solar cell. If place some
uid channels at the rear of the solar cell, the uids owing in the
channels will remove the heat from the cell, hence the temperature
of solar cell will get down and then its efciency will increase. The
heat removed by the uids can be utilized, that is to say the system
can provide thermal energy while generating electrical energy. This
kind of solar system is called photovoltaic/thermal (PV/T) system.
Since Kern and Russell [2] rst proposed the main concept of PV/T
system which uses air or water as the heat carrier medium, many

* Corresponding authors. Tel.: 86 551 3607390; fax: 86 551 3606459.


E-mail address: hwei@ustc.edu.cn (W. He).
1359-4311/$ e see front matter 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.applthermaleng.2011.06.021

researchers in the world have conducted theoretical and experimental analysis of PV/T system. Bergene and Lovvik [3] showed that
the total efciency of the PV/T system could achieve 60%e80%
through their theoretical research. Huang et al. [4] proposed the
concept of primary-energy saving efciency which was more
accurate in evaluating the performance of PV/T system. And they
also developed a new PV/T collector type which consisted of
collector plate and polycrystalline silicon solar cells. Daily average
thermal efciency of this kind of PV/T system could achieve 38%,
and its primary-energy saving efciency was about 60%. The PV/T
system developed by Bjornar and Rekstad [5] had monocrystalline
silicon solar cells afxed to the back of a at-box type solar collector
plate which was made of a polymer and had glazing on the surface.
They had done experimental research with a low temperature
water under different conditions. Hisashi Saitoh et al. [6] afxed
monocrystalline silicon solar cells to an aluminum plate with
copper tube on the back, and made another PV/T system prototype.
They used brine as the heat carrier medium and tested the
performance of this system. Zakharchenko et al. [7] made a PV/T
solar collector by felting solar collectors with black PVC absorber
plate and different kinds of photovoltaic cells. They analyzed the
test results and reached the conclusion that there would be better
cooling effect on photovoltaic cells and higher thermal efciency if
the area of photovoltaic cells was much smaller than the area of
solar collector and the photovoltaic cells was arranged near the

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W. He et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 31 (2011) 3369e3376

inlet of the solar collector. Chow [8] developed an explicit dynamic


model for a single-glazed at plate water-heating PV/T collector
based on the control-volume nite-difference approach. Furthermore Chow et al. [9] also introduced a dynamic simulation model of
a building-integrated PV/T system and compared its predicted
operating temperature changes and system daily efciencies with
the measured data acquired from an experimental rig. W. He et al.
[10] had experiments on an individual aluminum-alloy at-box
type PV/T system under natural circulation of water and evaluated
its performance throughout daily experimental data. Then Chow
and He [11] also had an experimental study of facade-integrated
PV/T water-heating system with different operating modes in
different seasons and reached the conclusion that Natural water
circulation was more preferable than forced circulation in this
hybrid solar collector system. Kalogirou et al. [12] analyzed and
compared industrial application of PV/T solar energy systems from
the aspects of locations, load supply temperatures temperature,
material of solar cell, requirements of energy and cost of the
systems. Charalambous et al. [13] introduced the PV/T system in the
aspects of types, theory, models, experimental work, performance
and affecting factors comprehensively and systematically in their
review. Dubey et al. [14] derived an analytical expression for
characteristic equation of combined system of PV/T at-plate
collectors and validated it experimentally for various congurations. The performance of water-heating system had also been
carried out.
Through the former research, it is known that the PV/T system
can utilize the solar energy more effectively and has a higher total
efciency than a common solar collecting system, but the extent is
unknown. In other words, it is unknown that how much more
energy the PV/T system can collect than common solar collector or
the common PV module in the same daylighting area under the
same conditions. Especially, the comparative data between the
PV/T system and traditional solar system is limited. In order to
explore the unsolved problem and the limitation mentioned above,
we set two control groups while testing the performance of
the PV/T system at University of Science and Technology of China.
The control groups are a monocrystalline silicon photovoltaic and
a traditional at plate solar collector. The test PV/T is a new type of
PV/T solar collector which has the same material as monocrystalline
silicon photovoltaic and is integrated with common solar collector.
The solar collect area of the PV/T solar collector is the same as the
areas of the traditional at plate solar collector mentioned above
and the solar cell covered area of the PV/T solar collector is also
the same as the area of the monocrystalline silicon photovoltaic. In
this paper, we claried the effectiveness of the PV/T system that
generates both electric energy and heat, by comparing with the
effectiveness of those two control groups mentioned above.
2. Composition of PV/T system and experiment rig design

Fig. 1. Front view of the PV/T solar collector.

side of the aluminum absorber plate which was below the PV plate.
The thermal insulation layer which was attached to the side and
bottom surfaces of the PV/T solar collector was made of asbestos.
The water inlet and outlet ends were provided at the lower and
upper traverse tubes. The specications of PV/T solar collector are
shown in the Table 1.
2.2. Experimental and measurement systems of the PV/T system
Fig. 3 is a system diagram of the experimental equipment. Fig. 4
is a relief image photo of the experimental equipment. The PV/T
solar collector carried a thermally-insulated 100 L water-storage
tank. Because stratication of temperature was obvious in the
storage and in the collector under the natural circulation of water,
we set three thermocouples in the storage tank at different altitudes to measure temperature of the water in it. For the succeeding
further analysis, each of the temperature of the ambient, the glass
cover, the back plate and the water in the inlet and outlet ends was
also measured by a pair of thermocouples. Considering that all of
the temperatures we measured were in the temperature range of
0  Ce100  C, we chose the type of copper-konstantan as the thermocouples, whose accuracy were about 0.3  C. The temperature
of the water was about 10  Ce70  C, then error estimation of the
temperature was about 0.4%e3%. The controller controlled the
charge and discharge of storage battery and made the output
voltage of solar cell near the maximum-power-point. The converter
converted direct current into alternating current which was
provided to the load conveniently. The operating voltage and
operating current of the solar cell had been also measured. The

2.1. Outline of PV/T collector


The core component of PV/T system is PV/T solar collector.
Though performance of heat transfer of the tube-sheet type
collector is not as good as the at-box type collectors, the tubesheet type collector has the advantages of less water capacity and
higher pressure bearing capacity, furthermore, it is easier to
manufacture. We chose tube-sheet type structure as the absorber
plate in the PV/T collector. Figs. 1 and 2 show the front view and the
cross section of a PV/T solar collector. A PV/T solar collector is
composed of tempered glass, monocrystalline silicon photovoltaic
plate, aluminum absorber plate, copper tubes and thermal insulation layer. The tempered glass cover was separated from the PV
plate by an air gap. Seven copper tubes were meld to the bottom

Fig. 2. Cross section of the PV/T solar collector.

W. He et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 31 (2011) 3369e3376


Table 1
Specications of the PV/T system.
Monocrystalline silicon solar cell

Unit size: 0.12 m  0.12 m


Total number units: 72
(all connected in series)
Effective area: 1.163 m2
Conversion efciency: 14.5%
(without glazing)

Solar collector

Absorber material: aluminum-alloy


Absorber type: tube-sheet
Glass cover: 4 mm thick
Effective area: 1.513 m2
Thermal insulation: 30 mm thick

Water-storage tank

Type: cylindrical vertical


Length: 1.4 m
Diameter: 0.45 m
Water-storage capacity: 100 L
Thermal insulation: 30 mm thick

Storage battery

Rated voltage: 12 V
Capacity: 65 Ah
Units: 2 in series

Controller and converter

Rated input voltage: 48 V DC


Rated output voltage: 220 V AC
Maximum output power: 300 W

Thermocouples

Type: Copper-konstantan
Total number: 15
Accuracy: 0.3  C

pyranometer that was set parallel to the PV/T solar collector


measured the solar radiation which was received by the solar
collector. The system outputs, including the voltage, current,
temperature, solar radiation and wind conditions, were collected
daily through a data logger and recorded in the computer. The
specications of experiment equipments are shown in the Table 1.
2.3. Arrangement of control groups
There were two control groups in the experimental system. One
was a traditional solar collector with the same size as the PV/T solar
collector, the other was a monocrystalline silicon PV plate with the

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same size and material as the PV plate which was arranged in the
PV/T collector. Through experiment of the control groups, we could
compare the experiment date, thermal efciency and electrical
efciency between the experiment group and control groups,
furthermore, analyze the performance of the PV/T solar collector.
2.4. Experimental condition
Table 2 shows the installation conditions of the PV/T solar
collector. The PV/T system and the control groups were installed in
the west campus of University of Science and Technology of China
which locates in the city of Hefei at 32 N, 117 E. The tilt angles of
all the plates, including the PV/T plate, PV plate, traditional solar
collecting plate were 35 , which received the maximum solar
radiation. The performance testing procedures followed the PRC
(People Republic of China) national specication for domestic solar
hot water heaters. The 8 h outdoor performance data were recorded for each day from 8:00 to 16:00.
3. Daily performance assessment
3.1. Evaluation criterion of the PV/T system
The performance of the PV/T system is usually described by
a series of efciency terms. The basic ones of them are the thermal
efciency hth and the electrical efciency he, which describe the
performance of PV/T system in the aspects of thermal energy gain
and electrical energy gain respectively. Some researchers who do
research on PV/T system describe the performance of PV/T system
as total efciency h0 which sums the thermal efciency and electrical efciency, i.e.

h0 hth he

(1)

The total efciency describes the performance of PV/T systems


energy gain numerically. Considering that electrical energy is
a high-grade form of energy gain, primary-energy saving efciency
hf is proposed as the evaluation indicator of the PV/T systems
Comprehensive performance [4]. It is dened as

Fig. 3. Schematic diagram of experiment equipment.

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W. He et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 31 (2011) 3369e3376

Fig. 4. Relief image photo of the experimental equipment.

hf he =hpower hth

(2)

where hpower is the electric-power generation efciency of the


conventional powerplant, its value can be taken as 38%. The evaluation indicator of primary-energy saving efciency concerns both
of the quality and quantity of the energy that the PV/T system
converts solar energy to.
3.2. Calculation of daily efciency
Natural circulation of water system makes water cycle in the
system by the thermosiphon force that the temperature difference
in the collector and in the water-storage tank causes. The thermal
performance of a thermosiphon system is affected by a lot of factors
containing system design parameters, solar radiation, ambient
temperature, wind conditions and so on. It is an effective test
method that we choose daily average efciency to describe the
thermal performance of the thermosiphon system under various
climatic conditions. Through this, hth can be obtained experimentally by

hth

Cp M Tf  Ti

HAc

(3)

Latitude
Longitude
Tilt angle
Direction
Height from ground

hth a  U

Ti  T a
H

(4)

where T a is the daily average ambient temperature. In this equation


a is daily average thermal efciency when initial temperature of the
water equals daily average ambient temperature, U is a heat loss
coefcient during the energy-collecting period. The specic values
of a and U for a collector can be determined by the method of linear
regression analysis with the daily experiment data.
4. Experimental results and discussion
4.1. Experimental results
The daily experimental results of the PV/T system and the control
groups are listed in the Table 3. The plot of hth against Ti  T a =H
about the PV/T collector is shown in the Fig. 5. By these points, the
regression line which is the result of the liner regression is

Table 2
Installation condition of the PV/T system.
Location

where M is mass of water in the thermosiphon system, Cp is the


specic heat of water, H is the solar radiation on the collector
surface during the experiment, Ti and Tf are, respectively, the initial
and nal temperatures of the water in the storage tank.
Considering that efciency of a natural circulation of water
system is affected by solar radiation, ambient temperature, initial
temperature and mass of the water in the system obviously, an
evaluation method of natural circulation of water systems performance is proposed [15]. It is dened as the equation as follow

Hefei, Anhui, China


(University of Science
and Technology of China)
32 N
117 E
35
South
0.3 m

hth 0:400  0:195

Ti  T a
H

(5)

with a correlation coefcient of 0.957.


The plot of hth against Ti  T a =H about the traditional solar
collector is shown in the Fig. 6. And then the regression line was
found as

W. He et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 31 (2011) 3369e3376

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Table 3
Daily experimental results (sequence by temperature of the ambient air from high to low).
No.
1

10

11

12

13

14

PV/T collector
Traditional collector
Solar cell
PV/T collector
Traditional collector
Solar cell
PV/T collector
Traditional collector
Solar cell
PV/T collector
Traditional collector
Solar cell
PV/T collector
Traditional collector
Solar cell
PV/T collector
Traditional collector
Solar cell
PV/T collector
Traditional collector
Solar cell
PV/T collector
Traditional collector
Solar cell
PV/T collector
Traditional collector
Solar cell
PV/T collector
Traditional collector
Solar cell
PV/T collector
Traditional collector
Solar cell
PV/T collector
Traditional collector
Solar cell
PV/T collector
Traditional collector
Solar cell
PV/T collector
Traditional collector
Solar cell

T a ( C)

Ti ( C)

Tf ( C)

T ( C)

34.9
33.8

59.1
65.8

24.2
32.0

36.7

16.14

34.0
33.7

58.8
65.9

24.8
32.2

35.9

16.45

33.2
32.6

56.1
62.8

22.9
30.2

35.9

14.57

33.6
33.6

57.9
64.9

24.3
31.3

35.3

15.87

33.1
30.5

51.3
56.9

18.2
26.4

33.0

12.94

29.3
29.1

50.5
58.7

21.2
29.6

31.6

15.22

29.5
29.0

54.7
63.2

25.2
34.2

29.6

16.87

23.3
22.4

39.6
46.6

16.3
24.2

22.0

11.66

17.9
18.6

39.7
51.3

21.8
32.7

19.39

13.82

17.5
17.2

36.5
47.7

19.0
30.5

18.8

15.30

17.6
18.5

42.1
56.0

24.5
37.5

17.6

16.71

18.4
18.7

34.0
41.7

15.6
23.0

16.9

10.55

18.3
18.6

41.0
54.9

22.7
26.3

16.8

16.49

18.6
18.5

38.5
45.8

19.9
27.3

16.1

13.61

H (MJ/m2)

hth 0:547  0:052

Fig. 5. Graphical plot of experimental results of the PV/T collectors thermal efciency.

hth (%)

he (%)

h0 (%)

hf (%)

41.34
54.61
0
41.55
54.02
0
43.20
57.09
0
42.17
54.34
0
38.85
56.24
0
38.33
53.61
0
41.07
55.78
0
38.34
57.24
0
43.51
65.23
0
39.66
63.48
0
40.44
61.89
0
40.65
60.02
0
38.00
60.53
0
40.27
55.12
0

9.84
0
12.55
9.75
0
12.52
10.49
0
12.53
9.94
0
12.49
9.01
0
13.16
11.56
0
13.22
11.27
0
13.21
11.39
0
12.48
12.22
0
13.01
11.83
0
12.66
12.51
0
13.60
11.45
0
12.81
11.96
0
12.90
11.93
0
13.18

51.18
54.61
12.55
51.30
54.02
12.52
53.69
57.09
12.53
52.11
54.34
12.49
47.86
56.24
13.16
49.89
53.61
13.22
52.34
55.78
13.21
49.73
57.24
12.48
55.73
65.23
13.01
51.49
63.48
12.66
52.95
61.89
13.60
52.10
60.02
12.81
49.96
60.53
12.90
52.20
55.12
13.18

67.24
54.61
33.03
67.21
54.02
32.95
70.81
57.09
32.97
68.33
54.34
32.87
62.56
56.24
34.63
68.75
53.61
34.79
70.73
55.78
34.76
68.31
57.24
32.84
75.67
65.23
34.24
70.79
63.48
33.32
73.36
61.89
35.79
70.78
60.02
33.71
69.47
60.53
33.95
71.67
55.12
34.68

Ti  T a
H

(6)

with a correlation coefcient of 0.700.


Through the efciency equations and data in the Table 3, we nd
that the thermal efciency of PV/T collector is expected to be lower
than it of the traditional solar collector. Because on one hand, in
a PV/T system there is a PV module plate above the absorber plate,
whose emissivity is much higher compared to the absorber of the
traditional solar collector which has a selective absorptive layer
covered it, then the heat loss between PV/T collector and environment is much higher than that of the traditional solar collector and
the absorbed solar energy by the PV/T collector is much less than
the traditional solar collector. On the other hand, in the PV/T system
an extra thermal resistance exists between the surface that
received solar radiation and the water streams in the copper tube
caused by an extra aluminum absorber plate and an adhesive layer.
In theory the electrical efciency of the PV/T collector should be
higher than the electrical efciency of the PV plate in the same
conditions. Because the water streaming in the tubes will remove
the heat from the PV module, the temperature of PV module will
get down and then the efciency of it will increase. However,
through the experimental data in the Table 3, we nd that the result
is opposite in our experiment, that is to say the efciency of the

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W. He et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 31 (2011) 3369e3376

Fig. 6. Graphical plot of experimental results of the traditional solar collectors thermal
efciency.

PV/T collector is lower. Because on one hand, to keep the heat of the
water in the tubes from dissipating, there is a thermal insulation
layer under the PV module plate and the water tubes in the PV/T
collector. Although the added water tubes will increase the heat
dissipation from the PV module plate, the heat convection between
the PV module plate and the ambient air will decrease sharply.
When the temperature of the water in the tubes is high, the effect of
heat transfer between the water in the tubes and the PV module
plate is not considerable. By contrast, temperature of the ambient
air does not change obviously and is in a range of low temperature
all the time. The individual PV module plate can dissipate heat
effectively in the air. As a result, temperature of PV module plate in
the PV/T collector will be higher than the temperature of individual
PV module plate settled in the air, and then the electrical efciency
of PV/T collector will get down. On the other hand, there is an extra
air gap between the glazing cover and PV module plate in the PV/T
collector which decreases the absorbed solar radiation by the PV
module plate.
In our experiment, the thermal efciency of the PV/T system is
0.400 when initial temperature of the water in the system equals
the daily average ambient air temperature from the Eq. (5). The
daily average electrical efciency of the PV/T system is about 10%
which is a little lower than the daily average electrical efciency of
the individual PV plate. The daily average electrical efciency of the
individual PV plate is about 12%. Though the total efciency of the
PV/T system is still lower than the thermal efciency of the traditional solar collector, considering that electrical energy is a highgrade form of energy gain, primary-energy saving efciency of
the PV/T system hf is much higher than the thermal efciency of the
traditional solar collector and that of the individual PV plate, which
is shown in Table 3. Furthermore, the PV/T system takes much less
space than a traditional solar collector with an individual PV plate.
And the ratio of M/Ac of the PV/T system is only 66.1 kg/m2, which
is lower than the standard 75 kg/m2. As a result of this the thermal
performance of the PV/T system can be improved. With all these
considerations, generally speaking, the performance of our PV/T
system is encouraging.
4.2. Performance evaluation
The whole day experiment results on a sunny day are shown
in Fig. 7(a) and (b). Fig. 7(a) shows the trends of measured
solar radiation, ambient air temperature, and different water

temperature in the storage tank of the PV/T system and the traditional solar collecting system. Fig. 7(b) shows the trends of
measured solar radiation, electrical efciency of the PV/T system
and the common PV plate.
From the Fig. 7(a), the nal water temperature in the storage of
the PV/T system had reached about 55  C, while the nal water
temperature in the storage of the traditional solar collecting system
reached about 63  C in the same conditions. In the PV/T system
design, the absorptivity of the PV module in use was high and so
was its emissivity. The heat loss between PV/T collector and environment is much higher than that of the traditional solar collector,
due to the higher heat loss coefcient, the thermal efciency of the
PV/T system is a little lower than that of the traditional solar
collector. Also on the cell surface, the silver grid metal line which
had a high value of reectivity covered nearly 10% of the collector
surface area, and it also affected thermal performance of the PV/T
system. Both of the ratios of M/Ac of the PV/T system and traditional
solar collecting system are only about 66.1 kg/m2, which is lower
than the standard 75 kg/m2. As a result of this the thermal
performance of the PV/T system can be improved by enlarging the
water-storage tank.
From the Fig. 7(b), the electrical efciency of the PV/T collector
was a little lower than the traditional monocrystalline silicon
photovoltaic plate, that was because to decrease the heat loss the
thermal insulation layer kept the temperature of the PV module in
the PV/T system high. In the morning, the electrical efciency of
the PV/T system was especially low, that was because there was an
air gap between the front glazing and the PV module absorber,
when the weather turned cold, water condensation frequently
appeared on the front glazing in the early morning for an hour or
so. This occurrence changed the transmissivity of the glazing and
consequently led to the drop in electrical efciency. In our
experiment, we used the constant-voltage system as the
photovoltaic-efciency control system which was common and
simple. However, this kind of control system is not as effective as
MPPT (maximum-power-point tracker) system in improving the
electrical efciency of the PV/T system. Our experiment lasted
from August to November, during the experiment period, the
efciency of the PV/T system and the traditional monocrystalline
silicon photovoltaic plate at later period was obviously higher
than it at prior period due to the decrease of the temperature of
the ambient air which decreased the temperature of the PV
module.
We did the comparative experiment in the city of Hefei which
had a signicant seasonal variation in one year. The temperature
of ambient air, which affected the performance of the PV/T
system, was changing obviously in the period of the experiment.
In the Table 3, the results of the experiment were sequenced by
temperature of the ambient air from high to low. The experiment
results showed that both of the electrical efciency of the PV/T
collector and the PV module plate had increased with the
temperature of ambient air decreased. Furthermore the difference of the electrical efciency between the PV/T collector and
the PV module plate had reduced with the temperature of
ambient air decreased. In the aspect of thermal performance, the
thermal efciency of the traditional collector had increased with
the initial temperature of the water in the system decreased. The
initial temperature of the water in the system was affected by
the temperature of ambient air obviously. So the thermal efciency of the traditional collector will increase if the temperature of ambient air has increased. However, due to the higher
heat loss coefcient, lower temperature of ambient air means
more heat loss, the thermal efciency of the PV/T collector will
not change obviously while the temperature of ambient air is
changing.

W. He et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 31 (2011) 3369e3376

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Fig. 7. A whole day experiment results of a sunny day. (a) Daily variation of water tank temperature of the PV/T system and the traditional solar collecting system with ambient
temperature and irradiation (b) Daily variation of electrical efciency of the PV/T system and the common PV plate with irradiation.

5. Conclusions
The hybrid PV/T system technology would be an effective
solution to utilize the energy at multi levels, which could improve
the efciency of solar energy utilizing. Compared to the forced
circulation of water, the PV/T system under natural circulation of
water has no pump in the system which takes more space and
consumes extra energy. Due to the structure of tube-sheet and the
performance of this kind of PV/T system, it is particularly suitable
for the hot or warm climatic area. To improve the efciency, the PVT
system can reduce the heat loss from the collector when the solar
cells act as selective absorbers. Further reduction of heat loss can
improve the thermal performance, while, at the same time, this
increased temperature of the module will affect the electrical
performance of the PV/T system. So far, lots of further research and
development work on PV/T system design are still in progression.

To further research the performance of the PV/T system,


a comparative experiment on PV/T system under natural circulation
of water was designed and tested. The test results of the experiment on the energy performance were very encouraging. The daily
thermal efciency was found about 40%, which is about 75% of that
for a conventional solar thermosiphon collector system. The daily
average electrical efciency was found about 10%, which was a little
lower than the traditional monocrystalline silicon photovoltaic
plate in the same conditions. However, the primary-energy saving
efciency was found about 60%e75% which is much higher than
the efciency of the conventional system. Furthermore, it took less
space and provided high temperature water in the storage tank
after a one-day operation. The hot water can meet the needs of
domestic hot water basically and meet the needs of industrial hot
water partly. Meanwhile, the results of experiment provide quantities of data of PV/T system which could be useful in the designing

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W. He et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 31 (2011) 3369e3376

of PV/T collector and evaluation of PV/T system. These make the PV/
T system design a good potential for serving the domestic market.
Acknowledgements
The work described in this paper was supported by the National
Nature Science Fund of China (Project No. 51078342 & 50978241)
and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities
(Project No. 2090130002).
Appendix. Nomenclature

Ac
H
M
Cp
Ta
Ti
Tf
T
U

a
he
hth
h0
hpower
hf
G

collector surface area, m2


daily solar radiation on the collector, MJ/(m2 day)
mass of water in thermosiphon system, kg
specic heat of the water, J/(kg  C)
daily average temperature of the ambient air,  C
initial temperature of the water in storage tank,  C
nal temperature of the water in storage tank,  C
difference between Ti and Tf,  C
coefcient of overall system heat loss rate, MJ/(m2 K day)
overall thermal-absorptance of the PV/T system,
electrical efciency,
thermal efciency,
total efciency,
conventional power-plant electric-power generation
efciency,
primary-energy saving efciency,
measured incoming solar radiation on the collector
surface, W/m2

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