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2012 First International Conference on Renewable Energies and Vehicular Technology

Evaluating Solar Photovoltaic System Performance using MATLAB

M. Bouzguenda*1, T. Salmi#2, A. Gastli*3 and A. Masmoudi#4

Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, College of Engineering,

Sultan Qaboos University, P.O. Box 33, P.C. 123, Al-Khoudh, Sultanate of Oman.

Research Unit on Renewable Energies and Electric Vehicles,

National Engineering School of Sfax, P.O.B: W, 3038 Sfax, Tunisia.


This paper focuses on the modeling of solar photovoltaic (PV) cell and the performance of typical solar PV panels in
selected areas in the Sultanate of Oman. An accurate solar PV cell electrical model is based on the junction diode equations.
The model consists of a photo-current current source, a single diode junction and a series resistance, and takes into account
temperature and solar irradiation dependence. The model is developed using MATLAB/Simulink and is used to investigate
the variation of the maximum power point for different temperatures and solar irradiation levels. Finally, the model is
experimentally validated for a typical 30 Watt solar module connected to a variable load.
Index Terms solar irradiation, performance, irradiance, experimental validation, I-V curve, maximum power point,
energy consumption using solar PV systems. These values
are based on a solar energy conversion efficiency of 10%.

Worldwide power generation is facing three equally
important issues-increasing oil prices, worsening
environmental issues and depleting conventional fossil fuel
energy resources. In light of these issues, renewable energy
sources, in particular, solar PV and wind are getting more
attention around the world and the Middle East.

Moreover, GCC countries are reported to contribute

about 45-50 % of Arab countries CO2 emissions [4] and
their energy consumption is driven largely by home use. In
2008, almost 47% of the GCCs energy consumption was
residential and represented about twice the worldwide
average of 25% [5]. Therefore, distributed and residential
solar PV systems represent a good alternative to meet
residential energy demand and reduce transmission and
distribution losses. Several solar PV projects are planned in
the GCC area. Recently, Dubai has released plans to build a
48 km2 solar PV facility in phases, over the next 20 years.
The planned facility consists of solar PV and concentrated
solar thermal and would provide 1000 MW of green power.
This facility would make Dubai as one of the worlds
greenest metropolitan areas and it is estimated to cost $3.25
billion [6].

According to the World Energy Council, the Gulf

Cooperation Council (GCC) needs additional power of 100
GW over the current decade. It is estimated that about $25
billion are needed to develop this additional capacity in
GCC [1].
The GCC countries are wealthy in solar irradiation. As
shown in Table 1, the average solar irradiation for solar PV
applications ranges between 5.1 and 7.0 kWh/m2/day. For
solar rough concentrators, direct solar irradiation ranges
between 5.6 and 6.5 kWh/m2/day [1]. In fact, GCC
countries are reported to have very good solar energy
potential throughout the year [2].

The paper is organized as follows. Section 2 deals with

the solar cell modeling using MATLAB/Simulink, followed
by the solar cell model simulation. Section 3 covers the
modeling of a typical 60-W solar panel performance as a
function of ambient temperature and solar irradiation. In
Section 4, the experimental validation of the proposed
model is carried out for a 30W GE high efficiency solar
module. Concluding remarks and future work are presented
at the end of the paper.

Table 2 lists the GCCs annual and per capita electricity

consumption for 2009 [3]. First, while Saudi Arabia leads
the GCC in terms of energy consumption, Kuwait has the
highest per capita energy consumption. Second, three
countries have the highest per capita energy consumption
around the world. The fourth column of Table 2 displays the
estimated land required for each country to meet 20% of its
978-1-4673-1170-0/12/$31.00 2012 IEEE


Table 1. Annual average solar PV resources in the GCC

Saudi Arabia

Global Solar

I L (T1 )= I SC (T1,nom )

Direct Solar

I = I L Io



(V + IRs )


n is the diode quality factor.

Ko is the short circuit current temperature coefficient
T1 is the reference temperature.
T is climate temperature.
Vg is band gap energy.
k is the Boltzmanns constant.
q is the electron charge.
VocT1 is the open circuit voltage per cell.
ISC is the short circuit current per cell.
G is the ambient irradiation. G=1 for 1000 W/m2.

Based on equations (1) through (5), a model was

developed and tested using MATLAB/Simulink. The
results, shown in Figures 2, 3, 4 and 5, are discussed in the
following sections.
2.1 Effects of Solar Irradiation

The influence of the solar irradiation on the solar cell

voltage, current and maximum power point is shown in Fig
2. As it can be seen from this figure, more power is
delivered from the solar cell as the irradiation level
increases. This is due to increase in both the voltage and the
current when solar cell is exposed to more irradiation.

A typical PV cell consists of a silicon P-N junction that

when exposed to light releases electrons around a closed
electrical circuit. The equivalent circuit of the PV cell is
shown in Fig. 1 [7].

q (V + IRS )
(e nKT




I L = I L (T1 )(1 + K o (T T1 ))

Table 2. Annual energy consumption and land for solar PV

installations in the GCC countries.
Per capita
electric energy electric energy
consumption consumption
Saudi Arabia


IL is the photo current generated in the PV cell and

depends on the solar irradiation (G).
I is the PV cell output current.
Id is the bypass diode current and depends on junction
voltage and the cell reverse saturation current (Io).
V is the PV cell output voltage.
Rsh is the shunt resistance and it has a large value.
Rs is the series resistance and it has a small value.

Figure 1. Solar PV cell equivalent circuit.

The following relationships among the above quantities
define the solar cell model:

I oT1 = I SC (T1 )e

qVoc T

I o = I oT1 ( ) 3 / n e



qV g 1 1
( )
nk T T1

Figure 2. Effects of the solar irradiation on the cell
current (a) and power (b).




2.2 Effects of Temperature

The impacts of the ambient temperature on the current

and maximum power output are shown in Fig 3. The
increase in the short circuit current and decrease in the open
voltage due to temperature rise resulted in overall reduced
power output.
2.3 Effects of Series Resistance

The effect of the series resistance RS on the cell power

output is shown in Fig. 4. Reducing the series resistance
lead to an increase in the power output and a deviation of
the maximum power point as well.

Figure 4. Effects of the series resistance on the cell
current (a) and power output (b).

2.4 Effects of Diode Reverse Saturation Current

As seen in Fig 5, reducing the diode saturation current

increased the open circuit voltage and the maximum power
point delivered by the solar cell.


Figure 5. Effects of the diode reverse saturation current
on the cell current (a) and power (b) for G=1000W/m2,
Rs=8m, Rsh=10k and T=75oC.

Figure 3. Effects of the ambient temperature on the cell
current (a) and power output (b).


A typical PV module consists of several solar cells

connected in parallel and series so as to provide operational
voltage and current levels. Based on the solar PV cell
model developed in Section 2, a model was built and
validated for the Solarex MSX60 module using
MATLAB/Simulink for different solar irradiation levels and
ambient temperatures. The main characteristics of the
Solarex MSX60 module are listed in Table 3. The effects of
solar irradiation and ambient temperature are displayed in
Figures 6 and 7.


Table 3. The key specifications for the Solarex MSX60

PV panel [7].

Cell technology
Number of cells in series
Open circuit voltage
Short circuit current
Voltage at maximum power
Current at maximum power
Maximum power


21.00 V
3.74 A
17.10 V
3.50 A
59.90 W
Figure 7. Effects of the temperature on the Solarex
MSX60 current (a) and power output (b).

It is expected that the performance of a given solar PV

system depends mainly on the solar irradiation and the
temperature. Other parameters such as wind speed, humidity
and dust accumulation are important as well and are not
undertaken in the study. To experimentally validate the
developed Simulink model, a 30-Watt GE high efficiency
monocrystalline PV solar module was tested and the results
are compared with the simulation results.
In the
experimental setup, a variable DC load was connected to the
solar module. Temperature, solar irradiation, voltage and
current are monitored throughout the experiment. The
results for the I-V and P-V curves are displayed in Figures 8
and 9, respectively. The discrete data points indicate the
experimental values and show excellent agreement with the
model shown in solid line.
Accordingly, the developed model can be used as PV
generator in SimPower tool for system conversion platform.
In addition, the developed model would assist in predicting
the performance of PV cells and extracting the internal
physical parameters of the solar cell.

Figure 6. Effects of solar irradiation on the Solarex
MSX60 current (a) and power output (b).

Figure 8. The I-V curve for the GE 30 Watt module.

The discrete data points indicate the experimental values


Mounir Bouzguenda received his B.S. degree in
Electrical Engineering the Pennsylvania State
University, USA, in 1985. He also received his M.S.
and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering from
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University,
USA in 1988 and 1992, respectively.
Dr. Mounir taught in Virginia, Maryland, Tunisia and
Sultanate of Oman. He also worked as a consultant with Standard
Technologies Institute, Maryland and Temple Group, Washington DC and
Computer Engineering Services, Sfax-Tunisia. Dr. Mounir joined Sultan
Qaboos University-Oman as an Associate Professor in 2009. Currently, he
is teaching in the Electrical and Computer Engineering. His research
interests include smart grid, renewable energy systems, power systems and
power electronics. He has authored and co-authored many technical papers
in these areas.

Figure 9. The P-V curve for the GE 30 W Module.

The discrete data points indicate the experimental values

Tarak Salmi was born in Kairouan in Tunisia, on

September 2, 1975. He graduated from Nasrallah
Secondary School, Kairouan, and studied at the
University Sfax. His special fields of interest include
Power Electronics and Photovoltaic Systems.
Tarak received the B.S. degree from Tunis University of
Sciences in 2000 and the MS degree from Monastir
University of Sciences in 2007. Currently, he is pursuing his Ph.D. at the
National Engineering School of Sfax (ENIS) in Tunisia.

In this paper, the models for solar photovoltaic cell and

module have been developed and analyzed for different
weather conditions and devices main parameters. The
models were validated by constructing the characteristic
curves under different scenarios. Finally, the results were
compared with the solar cell and module main
characteristics given by the manufacturers.

Adel Gastli received the B.Sc. degree in Electrical

Engineering from National School of Engineers of
Tunis, Tunisia in 1985. He worked two year in the
standardization and certification of electric products in
Tunisia. He received the M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees from
Nagoya Institute of Technology, Japan in 1990 and 1993
respectively. He joined the R&D Department at Inazawa
Works (elevators and escalators) of Mitsubishi Electric Corporation in
Japan from April 1993 to Aug. 1995. He joined Sultan Qaboos University
in Aug. 1995. He is currently a Professor of Electrical Engineering at
Sultan Qaboos University, Muscat, Oman. He has established, in 2003, the
Renewable and Sustainable Energy Research Group (RASERG) at Sultan
Qaboos University and served as RASERG coordinator since then. He has
authored and co-authored more than 80 papers. His current research
interests include electrical machines, power electronics, drives, as well as
renewable energy.

The aim of future work would be to develop a complete

model to simulate the electrical behavior of a PV array and
subsequently an entire standalone or grid connected solar
PV system.

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Ahmed Masmoudi received the BS degree from Sfax

Engineering School (SES), University of Sfax,
Tunisia, in 1984, the PhD from Pierre and Marie Curie
University, Paris, France, in 1994, and the Research
Management Ability degree from SES, in 2001, all in
Electrical Engineering. In 1988, he joined the Tunisian
University where he held different positions involved
in both education and research activities. He is
currently a Professor of Electric Power Engineering at SES. Ahmed
Masmoudi is the Manager of the Research Unit on Renewable Energies and
Electric Vehicles. He is the Editor in Chief of the Transactions on Systems,
Signals and Devices (TSSD), issues on Power Electrical Systems,
published by Shaker-Verlag, Germany. He is the Program Committee
Chairman of the International Conference and Exhibition on Ecological
Vehicles and Renewable Energies (EVER), held every year in Monaco,
since 2006. He is a senior member IEEE. Ahmed Masmoudi is the author
and co-author of more than 70 journal papers among which three are
published in the IEEE Transactions on Magnetics. He is the co-inventor of
a US patent. His main interests are focused towards the design of new
topologies of electrical machines and the implementation of advanced,
efficient and robust control strategies in electrical machine drives and
generators, applied in automotive as well as in renewable energy systems.