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Modelling of PV Systems

Paul Strachan
Energy Systems Research Unit
PV output
PV Hybrid
Solar shading
Roof integrated
PV Hybrid
Three types of silicon commonly
used for PV modules:
mono-crystalline: high quality
material of homogeneous
structure grown from a single
crystal ( ~16%)
poly-crystalline: material made up
of a number of different silicon
crystal structures ( ~13%)
amorphous: material is only a few
microns thick with no set structure
( ~8%)
Energy pay back time of a complete PV system
ranges from 19 to 40 months for a roof-mounted
system, and 32 to 56 months for a PV-facade
(depending on solar irradiation in 26 countries).
Based on a 30-year commercial lifespan, the energy
return factor is 8 to 18 for roof-mounted systems, and
5.4 to 10 for facades.
Every kWp of PV panels (~10 m
) can avoid up to 40
tonnes of CO
during its commercial lifespan, and
23.5 tonnes for a PV facade (varies widely from one
country to another depending on the energy
production mix)
Pollution-free at the local and global level, no
greenhouse gas emissions.
Advantages of BIPV
Japan currently has a program that aims to build
70,000 solar homes, installing 4600MWp by 2010.
European parliament is proposing a 2000MWp
scheme. EU Industry networks indicate a growth
from 500MWp(2002) to 3600MWp (2010)
for grid-connected PV.
In 1990 Germany launched the 1,000 roofs
programme this resulted in >3,000 houses with PV
systems. A 10,000 roofs programme was
introduced between 1990-1996. Germany is now a
world leader in the technology.
Recent UK DTI technology support programmes
BIPV Examples
Either constructed or in planning:
Isle of Lewis - Sports Community Centre 10 kWp
Isle of Islay Columba Centre 20 kWp
Isle of Harris - School/Harris Sports Centre 20 kWp
Dunbar - Community Development Company 20 kWp
Dundee City Council, Morgan School 35 kWp
Foula Community Electricity Scheme 19 kWp
Ministry of Defence, Faslane Supermess Building 50 kWp
Napier University 18 kWp
Park Circus Homes - Wildwood Glen 100 kWp
Queen's Cross Housing Association, Glasgow 9 kWp
Scottish Environmental and Outdoor Centres Assoc. 10 kWp
Wick Fish Market, Wick 21 kWp
University of Edinburgh 27 kWp
1900 Malaga
1300 Munich
765 1026 881 Edinburgh
793 1103 979 London
Vertical (S) 45deg (S) Horizontal
Annual global irradiation kWh/m
87 117 100 Edinburgh
91 126 112 London
Vertical (S) 45deg (S) Horizontal
Average irradiation W/m
Difference across UK is small 1000 kWh/m
per year or an average of
114 W/m
is representative (~75% of this for vertical south-facing facades)
Peak module size is based on 1000W/m
Assuming 10% efficiency, 1kWp is 10m
of modules
For UK typical annual radiation of 1000 kWh/m
, output from 10m
of modules is 1000kWh (less for faade mounting)
i.e. PV systems have 1000kWh output per year per 1kW peak
module sizing (this is a generally accepted figure) - i.e. an
average output of 114 W.
Compare with average household electricity use of 550W
Cost of a 1kWp system is in order of 6500 for a building-
integrated PV system (50% grants may be available)
Although a PV cladding system can be expensive (between
500 and 1000 per m
), it can be less than the amount
often spent for facades of prestigious office buildings.
Modelling of
Opaque or transparent
facade element
Recovered heat
Recovered electricity
facade element
PV cell
Electrical model to predict
power output (from
knowledge of incident
radiation and temp)
Thermal model to predict
cell temperature
including all convective,
radiative and conductive
heat flows and including
electrical power produced
in energy balance
For PV Hybrid systems
an integrated airflow
Several models available with different levels of complexity:
constant efficiency
a one-diode equivalent model which includes effects of
irradiation and temperature; other secondary effects can be
Sandia model, which is the most complex currently available
model - it also includes effect of spectral irradiance (via air
mass and solar angle of incidence). Most empirical parameters
not available in manufacturers data sheets so must access
Sandias database of PV modules.
Manufacturers data
Typical data available from manufacturers:
Module dimensions
Short-circuit current and open circuit voltage at STC
Current and voltage at maximum power point at STC
Temperature dependence of Isc, Voc and Pmax
Rated power, and guaranteed power after 12 or 20 years.
Standard Test Conditions (STC) are 1000W/m
(spectral distribution
for air mass 1.5) and 25C obtained from a flash test
Sometimes data available at Normal Operating Cell Temperature
(NOCT) - 800W/m
, ambient temp 20C and 1m/s wind speed (more
realistic for building applications).
Changes in I-V curves with irradiance (left) and
temperature (right)
[source: Kyocera Solar module KC158G]
0 to 15% Soil and dirt
Location dependent Snow
Location dependent Partial shading
1 to 5% Angle of incidence optical losses
0 to 3% Spectral Distribution
0 to 5% or more Uncertainty in manufacturers rating
5% over lifetime Ageing
2% Mismatch
3% Diodes and wiring
1 to 10% Temperature
Range Effect
Summary of secondary effects in PV arrays
From Thevenard BS05 paper
Temperature effects need for thermal model
Temperature coefficients for the maximum power are about:
-0.45 %/C for crystalline Si
-0.25 %/C for amorphous Si
A polycrystalline module operating typically at 45C will therefore
produce roughly 10% less power than predicted by its STC rating.
Note: An added uncertainty of amorphous modules is that the
module suffers from a light-induced degradation an initial loss of
efficiency reaching typically 20% within the first six months. Some
of this initial loss may be reversible, for example the efficiency
increases during hot periods due to self-annealing.
Partial shading effects
Shading part of a PV module has a very dramatic effect on its
power output.
Shading of even a small fraction (say, 5%) of the module may
result in a very large reduction (50% or more) of the module power
- due to the fact that, in a string of cells connected in series, the
cell with the lowest illumination determines the operating current of
the whole string.
Occurrence of shadows on PV modules should be avoided but
shading analysis is required if there is shading.
Note that PV modules normally include bypass diodes which limit
the amount of power dissipated in a string of cells.
Photovoltaic Module Testing
Test reference
environment at JRC
Ventilated faade with glass-
glass a-Si PV modules
Semi transparent insulated
p-Si PV module
Schematic of Test Configuration
of PV
Measured vs Predicted Electrical Power
Measured vs Predicted Temperature
Measured vs Predicted Cell
Application: speculative office
Building modelled with
various configuration of PV
Modelled in 3 climates -
Milan, Athens, Barcelona
Application: speculative office
Modelling assumptions:
constructions, occupancy levels etc. unchanged from
model to another, and from one country to another
lighting loads change because lights are switched on the
basis of 300 lux on the working plane.
different ventilation options modelled, from natural
ventilation and different mechanical ventilation
Speculative office building: energy
PV spandrel,
naturally ventilated
Building total energy use
Milan 13.21 145.5
Athens 14.76 130.6
Barcelona 14.51 109.8
PV spandrel,
naturally ventilated
Building total energy use
Milan 13.21 145.5
Athens 14.76 130.6
Barcelona 14.51 109.8
Results for the cases with the horizontal PV spandrel and
vertical facades with natural or mechanical ventilation at 2 ac/h,
are within 5%.
The power produced by the PV can be a useful contributor to the
buildings energy demands.
A manually adjustable shading device, to optimise the PV
elements seasonal inclination, would give further improvements
to the PV electricity contribution of 50 60%.
Hybrid Photovoltaic Modules
Thermal and Electrical
From Testing .............To Full Scale
In standard tests the technology seems to work well with significant heat
recovery. However, the problem with this and other solar pre-heating
technologies is that the heat is usually available when it is least required
a problem of utilisation.
Scaling of test
component to the full
scale to determine its
integrated performance:
- thermal, electrical,
airflow and plant
Hybrid PV
PV Hybrid
Hybrid PV systems can deliver significant heating energy savings,
but are most effective for applications where pre-heating of
ventilation air is important and in sunny, cold climates. Hybrid PV
systems are not generally applicable.
Hybrid PV systems work best when ventilation forms a major
component of the building heating loads.
For large areas of PV modules on house roofs, the electricity
production often exceeds immediate demands. This implies the
need for battery storage or supply to the grid.
Water-based systems have significantly higher potential, but there
are safety and structural issues.
Conclusions BIPV Systems
So do they work?
Yes in the sense that the energy payback is low, they are non-polluting,
and can be integrated in urban context for building applications.
but not currently cost-effective - PV technology costs typically range
from 41-57p/kWh and is projected to decrease to around 10-16 p/kWh
by 2020; compare current onshore wind costs on good sites in the
region of 2.53.0 p/kWh
not viable without first reducing demands through energy efficiency
and passive measures
PV hybrid systems have only niche applications
Can we model them?
Yes - but need to take care with secondary effects such as shading,
likelihood of dirt etc. Also need integrated modelling.
The End