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# Part V

Solar Energy
Electrical characteristic of Silicon
PV cells and modules
When the resistance is infinite, the current in the circuit is
zero and the voltage across the cell is at its maximum, known
as open circuit voltage (Voc).
When the resistance is zero, the cells is in effect short-
circuited and the current reaches its maximum, known as
short-circuit current (Isc).
PV cell connected to variable resistance, with
ammeter and voltmeter to measure variation in
current and voltage as resistance varies.
Current-voltage (I-V) characteristics
If we varies the load resistance between zero and infinity, the
current (I) and voltage (V) will be found to vary as shown I-V
curve.
The power output is zero at Voc and at Isc.
Between these points it rises and falls so there is one point at
which the cell delivers maximum power.
This maximum power point on I-V curve.
V
I (mA)
0.6
0.4 0.2
20
0
V
oc
10
I
sc
= I
ph
V'
The Load Line for R = 30
I-V for a solar cell under an
illumination of 600 Wm
-2
.
Operating Point
Slope =
1
/
R
P
I'
(a) When a solar cell drives a load R, R has the same voltage as the solar cell
but the current through it is in the opposite direction to the convention that
current flows from high to low potential. (b) The current I' and voltage V' in
the circuit of (a) can be found from a load line construction. Point P is the
operating point (I', V'). The load line is for R = 30 .
Light
I
R
V
I
(a)
(b)
1999 S.O. Kasap, Optoelectronics (Prentice Hall)
V
I (mA)
0.6
0.4 0.2
20
0
V
oc
10
I
sc
= I
ph
V'
The Load Line for R = 30
I-V for a solar cell under an
illumination of 600 Wm
-2
.
Operating Point
Slope =
1
/
R
P
I'
(a) When a solar cell drives a load R, R has the same voltage as the solar cell
but the current through it is in the opposite direction to the convention that
current flows from high to low potential. (b) The current I' and voltage V' in
the circuit of (a) can be found from a load line construction. Point P is the
operating point (I', V'). The load line is for R = 30 .
Light
I
R
V
I
(a)
(b)
1999 S.O. Kasap, Optoelectronics (Prentice Hall)
Operating point of the circuit
The current and voltage in the solar cell circuit are most
easily found by using a load line construction.
I-V characteristics of the load is a straight line with a negative
slope 1/R.
The load line cuts the solar cell characteristic at P.
At P, the load and the solar cell have the same current I and
voltage V.
Point P represents the operating point of the circuit.
Power curve for a solar cell
The power (P) produced by a solar cell is the product of the
voltage and the current for the particular operating
characteristics: P=IV
P is zero when either I or V are zero.
This occurs at I
sc
, (when V = 0) and V
oc
(when I = 0).
If we plot power on the I-V axes we can see how power varies
in between the two extremes.
Maximum power (P
mp
) is produced when V = V
mp
at which
point the current is I
mp
.
This is known as the maximum power point (MPP).
It is important to ensure that solar cells operate at or near the
point of maximum power.
Power curve for a solar cell
Power
The power delivered to the load is P
out
= IV
Which is the area of the rectangle bound by I- and V- axes
Maximum power is delivered to the load when this
rectangular are is maximized when I=I
m
& V=V
m
By either changing R or the intensity of illumination.
Since the maximum possible current is I
sc
and the
maximum possible voltage is V
oc
, I
sc
V
oc
represents the
desirable goal in power delivery for a given solar cell.
Fill Factor
To compare the maximum power output I
m
V
m
with
I
sc
V
oc
, the fill factor FF, which is a figure of merit for the
solar cell, is defined as
FF = I
m
V
m
/(I
sc
V
oc
)
FF is a measure of the closeness of the solar cell I-V curve to the
rectangular shape.
It is advantageous to have FF as close to unity as possible at the
exponential p-n junction properties prevent this
Typical FF values are in the range 70-85%
Design of a Photovoltaic System
Solar cells may be connected in series, parallel or both to
obtain the required voltage and current.
Cells are connected to form modules, modules are connected
to form panels, panels are connected to form arrays.
Solar modules in series
If the solar modules PV
1
and PV
2
are nominally 12 V each and with
a current capability of
I
1
= I
2
= 3.5A,
then the output voltage from
both modules that appear across
resistance R will be the sum of
the individual voltages from the
PV modules,
PV
T
= 24 V
12 V + 12 V = 24 V
but the current IT will be as for
one module,
I
1
= I
2
= I
T
= 3.5A
Solar modules in parallel
If the solar panels are nominally
PV
1
= PV
2
=12 V
each and with a current
capability of
I
1
= I
2
= 3.5 A
respectively,
then the output of the circuit
will be
PV
T
=12 V
at a total current of
I
T
= 3.5 A + 3.5 A = 7 A
Combination series/parallel circuits
An array of 2 parallel strings
with 2 modules in series in each
string is shown.
Assuming the same values as in
the previous examples, this solar
array has an output voltage of:
12 V+ 12 V = 24 V
An output current of
3.5 A + 3.5 A = 7 A
Example 1: Solar Energy Conversion
Suppose that a particular family house in a sunny geographic location
over a year consumes a daily average electrical power of 500 W. If the
annual average solar intensity incident per day is about 6 kWhm
2
, and
a photovoltaic device that converts solar energy to electrical energy
has an efficiency of 15%, what is the required device area?
Since we know the average light intensity incident,
Total energy available for 1 day = Incident solar energy in 1 day per unit
area Area Efficiency,
Which must equal to the average energy consumed per house in 1
day. Thus,
( )
3.65m. 3.65m panel a or 3 . 13
15 . 0 min/ 60 min / 60 10 6
24 min/ 60 min / 60 500
Efficiency area unit per energy solar Incident
house per Enegy
Area
2
1 2 6
=

=

=

m
hr s day m hr W
hrs hr s W
Example 2
An application requires 300 W at 28 V. Design a PV panel using solar
cells with V
m
= 0.542 V and I
m
= 0.1143 A each with an area of 6
cm
2
.
V
m
= 0.542 V and I
m
=0.1143 A
Power/cell = 0.542V 0.1143 A=0.062 W
Number of cell required = 300 W/(0.062 W/cell) = 4840
Number of cells in series = System Voltage/Voltage per cell
= 28 V/0.542 V = 52
Number of rows of 52 cells connected in parallel = 4840/52 ~ 93.1
Since the number of rows must be a whole number, we may increase the
number to 94 rows which will give 303 W output.
Factors which effect the
performance of solar cells
The critical factors that effect the power output of a solar
cells are
temperature and
Temperature Effect
The output voltage and the efficiency of a solar cell increases
with decreasing temperature
Solar cells operate best at lower temperature.
Assuming n = 1, at two different temperature T
1
and T
2
but
at the same illumination level
V
oc2
= V
oc1
(T
2
/T
1
) + E
g
/e(1 T
2
/T
1
)
where the subscripts 1 and 2 refer to the temperature T
1
or T
2
respectively
For example, a silicon solar cell that has V
oc1
= 0.55 V at 20
C (T
1
= 293 K) will have V
oc2
at 60C (T
2
= 333 K) given by
V
oc2
= (0.55 V)(333/293)+(1.1 V)(1 333/293) = 0.475 V
Temperature Effect (cont.)
As the temperature of a solar cell increases the open circuit
voltage V
oc
decreases but the short circuit current I
sc
increases
marginally.
The combined effect is a decrease in power
As a rule of thumb, for crystalline silicon cell the output power
changes 0.5 % for every 1 C variation in temperature.
The voltage decreases while there is a very slight increase in
current with the increasing temperature. This change in voltage is
at a very similar percentage to that of the power, that is
approximately 0.5 % for every 1 C variation in temperature.
Variation of characteristics with
temperature
Nominal operating cell temperature
The temperature at which solar cells are rated is 25 C. However,
under normal operating conditions the temperature is generally
higher than the ambient temperature and therefore higher than the
standard test cell temperature of 25 C.
Standard test conditions (STC) give the conditions under which all
cells can be compared but nominal operating cell temperature (NOCT)
gives a better indication of what output to expect from the cell
under normal operating conditions.
Please note that cells can still operate at temperatures higher than
NOCT and typically can be 25 C above ambient temperature,
depending on cell technology, solar module design and mounting
techniques.
There is an almost linear variation of the short circuit current.
The open circuit voltage, however, does not change dramatically,
it increases slightly.
The graph assumes that the cell temperature is constant ie.
Voltage.
Because the voltage remains reasonably constant under
varying irradiance solar cells are well suited for use as
battery chargers
Variation of characteristics with
PV system sizing
If meeting the load at all times is not critical, PV systems are
usually sized based on the average values of energy and power
needed, available solar radiation and component efficiencies.
This is known as the heuristic approach
It is important to note that this approach will not give the best
design but may provide a good start for a detailed design.
Design for remote photovoltaic
applications
Photovoltaic power may be ideal for a remote application
requiring a few watts to hundreds of kW of electrical power.
The design of a PV system is based on some basic
considerations for the application
Which is more important, the daily energy output or the power
(average or peak)?
Is a backup energy source needed and/or available?
Is energy storage important? What type- battery, pumped water
etc?
Is the power needed as AC or DC? What voltage?
Design for remote photovoltaic
applications (cont.)
There are three basic steps in the design of a PV system:
2. Estimation of available solar radiation
3. Design of PV system, including area of PV panels, selection
of other components and electrical system schematic.
Charge controller 2.0 8
Data gathering 4.0 3
Modem (standby) 1.5 22.5
Daily load calculations. How much energy per day is used by a
remote weather station given the following load characteristics?
Daily energy = (2.0W)(8h) + (4.0W)(3h)+(1.5W)(22.5h) + (30W)(1.5h)
= 106.75 Wh
Daily energy use is about 107 Wh per day
Example 4
Heuristic approach to PV system sizing. A PV system using
50W, 12V panels with 6V, 125A-hour batteries is needed to
power a house with a daily load of 1700 W-hour. System
voltage is 24V. There are an average of 5 daylight hours.
Specify the collector and storage values for the system using the
heuristic approach.
3 days of storage is required.
Assuming a battery efficiency of 75 % and a maximum depth of
discharge 70 %
Example 4 (cont.)
Daylight hours = 5 hours/day
Average panel output = 50W
Number of panels = 1700Wh/day (5 hour/day 50 W/panel)
= 6.8, round off to 7 panels
Since the system voltage is 24 V, but each panel produces only 12 V
and even number of panels will be needed.
Therefore number of panels =8.
Example 4 (cont.)
Given 3 days of storage, a battery efficiency = 75% and a maximum
depth of discharge 70% ,
Storage = 1700 3/(0.75 0.7)
= 9714 Wh
Num of batteries= (9714 Wh)/(125 Ah 6 V)
= 13 (Rounded off to the next whole number)
Since the system voltage is 24V and each battery provides 6V the
number of batteries is increased to 16. In a detailed design, the
efficiency of battery storage, inverter and the balance of system
must be accounted for.
An owner of a remote cabin wants to install a PV power
system. The load in the home are described as follow. Assume
Lights (AC) 4, 23 W compact fluorescent bulbs On at night for 5 hours
Lights (AC) 6, 13 W compact fluorescent bulbs 2 hours each (day time)
Stereo (AC) 110 W (amplifier), 15 W (other) On for 8 hours per week
Water pump (DC) 55W (3.75A start current, 24V) Run for 2hours per day
Computer (AC) 250W (monitor included) On for 1 hours daily
(weekend nights only)
Bathroom fan (DC) 40 W (3.5A start current, 24V) On for 1 hour per day
Microwave (AC) 550 W (AC) 1000W surge On for 30 minutes per day
Example 5 (cont.)
Using the cabin electrical system with average DC load
150Wh/day and average AC load 1124 Wh/day, calculate the
overall system efficiency for each operating mode possible
for the system.
Estimate the amount of energy required per day for the system.
When the load timing (day or night), assume half of the load
runs during the day and half runs at night.
The inverter used has a component efficiency of 91%, the
battery efficiency is 76%, and the distribution system
efficiency is 96%.
Example 5 (cont.)
Load name Power (W) Run time (hours) Energy (Wh)
Average Peak Day Week Day Week
Lights (AC) 423 423 5.0 35 460 3220
Lights (AC) 613 613 2.0 14 156 1092
Stereo (AC) 1110 1110 - 8 - 880
Water pump
(DC)
155 3.75A
24V
2.0 14 110 770
Computer
(AC)
1250 1250 1.5 3 - 750
Bathroom
fan (DC)
140 3.5A
24V
1.0 7 40 280
Microwave
(AC)
1550 11000 0.5 3.5 275 1925
Example 5 (cont.)
Average DC load: (770+280)/7 = 150 Wh/day
Average DC load is 150 Wh/day
Average AC load: (3220+1092+880+750+1925)/7 = 1124
Wh/day
Average AC load is 1124 Wh/day
The various system efficiencies are:
PV to load (DC): 0.96 (day, DC)
Battery to load (DC): (0.76)(0.96) = 0.73 (night, DC)
PV to load (AC): (0.96)(0.91)= 0.874 (day, AC)
Battery to load (AC): (0.76)(0.91)(0.96) = 0.664 (night/AC)
Example 5 (cont.)
Day (DC): (0.5)(110)+(0.5)(40) = 75 Wh/day
Night (DC): (0.5)(110)+(0.5)(40) = 75 Wh/day
Day (AC): (156) + (0.5)(880+750)/7 + (0.5)(275) = 409.9 Wh/day
Night (AC): (460) + (0.5)(880+750)/7 + (0.5)(275) = 713.9 Wh/day
Without considering system efficiency, the daily energy requirement is
E
day
= (150) + (1124)
= 1274 Wh/day
The expected daily energy requirement is
E
day
= (75)/(0.96) + (75)/(0.73) + (409.9)/(0.874) + (713.9)/(0.664)
= 1725 Wh/day
The actual energy requirement is 35% higher than simple calculation