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Matlab/Pspice Hybrid Simulation Modeling of Solar

PV Cell/Module
Yuncong Jiang*, Student Member, IEEE, Jaber A. Abu Qahouq*, Senior Member, IEEE
and Mohamed Orabi**, Senior Member, IEEE

*The University of Alabama ** APEARC, South Valley University

Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Aswan City 81542, Egypt
Tuscaloosa, Alabama 35487, USA

Abstract The power generated by solar photovoltaic (PV) of extracted power from a PV system is a function of the PV
module depends on surrounding irradiance, temperature array voltage and current set point [6-10]. Furthermore the
and shading conditions. Under partial shading conditions power is affected by external conditions like solar irradiance
(PSC) the power from the PV module can be dramatically and temperature. Under uniform solar irradiance level with no
reduced and maximum power point tracking (MPPT) partial shading, the nonlinear current-voltage (I-V)
control will be affected. This paper presents a hybrid characteristics of a PV solar module will have one optimal
simulation model of PV cell/module and system using operating point corresponding to a unique maximum power
Matlab/Simulink and Pspice. The hybrid simulation point (MPP) on its power-voltage (P-V) curve. In practice,
model includes the solar PV cells and the converter power since a solar module is composed of many solar cells which are
stage and can be expanded to add MPPT control and other connected with each other in series and/or in parallel, if some
functions. The model is able to simulate both the I-V cells on the panel are shaded, sometimes caused by
characteristics curves and the P-V characteristics curves of surrounding buildings, passing cloud in the sky or birds landing
PV modules under uniform shading conditions (USC) and on solar panel, the P-V characteristics of solar panels becomes
PSC. The model is used to study different parameters very complicated as multiple maximum power points exist on
variations effects on the PV array. The developed model is the P-V characteristic curves [12-14]. Due to the complex
suitable to simulate several homogeneous or/and behavior of a PV solar module under different illumination
heterogeneous PV cells or PV panels connected in series conditions, it is of advantage to build a simulation model to
and/or in parallel. thoroughly investigate power, voltage and current relationship
of a PV module under varying surrounding conditions and
Keywords: Photovoltaic (PV); Model; Hybrid; Simulation; partial shading conditions (PSC).
Partial Shading; Solar; Control. The modeling of PV solar cells/modules mainly fall into
two categories: mathematical-based modeling [11-14] and
electronic components-based modeling [15, 16]. For decades,
mathematical-based models of solar cells have been developed
The research in renewable energy has become an and simulated by computer aided mathematical software, for
increasingly important topic in the 21st century with the instance Matlab. Mathematical-based model of solar
problem of energy crisis becoming more and more aggravating, cell/module is programmed to obtain desire output data taking
resulting in increased exploitation and research for new power into account of ambient temperature, solar irradiance level and
energy resources such as wind, water, geothermal and solar load voltage. A mathematical-based model can describe PV
energy around the world [1, 2]. Solar energy is green energy, cell/module accurately using complicated mathematical
which is inexhaustible and environmentally friendly. It is algorithm. Nevertheless, the mathematical-based PV model is
becoming one of the most promising alternatives for inconvenient to interface with electronic power stage
conventional energy sources. Due to this, photovoltaic solar
components like dc-dc converters. On the other hand, the
energy has been increasingly used to generate electric power
electronics-based modeling of a PV solar cell/module can be
from sunshine [3-5].
realized in electric/electronic circuits-based simulation
A PV solar device, cell, or module converts solar energy software like Pspice. The electronic components-based
directly to electrical energy. If many cells are connected in models of solar cells/modules are easy to interface with the
series and parallel, a solar photovoltaic module is formed. power stage, which can also be modeled using Pspice.
Several PV solar devices are used to for a PV cell and several However, compared to mathematical-based models, the
cells are used to form a PV module. Solar energy obtained electronic component-based simulation models of solar
from a solar PV cell is not constant all the time. The amount cells/modules are incapable to incorporate complete

978-1-4244-8085-2/11/$26.00 2011 IEEE 1244

information of surrounding conditions (cell temperature, solar I = Current through the load;
irradiance, etc.). This may affect the accuracy of the
V = Voltage on the load;
simulation results.
This paper presents a hybrid PV cell/module simulation R s = Parasitic series resistance;
model which can be used in PV system simulation and study
R P = Parasitic shunt resistance;
under PSC, non-uniform cells, and other variable conditions.
The model unitizes Matlab/Simulink and Pspice q = Electron charge ( 1.6 10 19 C )
software packages in order to have a hybrid model with
combined advantages of mathematical-based models and k = Boltzmans constant ( 1.38 10 23 J / K )
electronic components-based models.
The photo current Iph is proportional to the sun irradiance a
Section II briefly describes the characteristics of a solar PV solar cell receives and to the cell temperature, which can be
cell. Section III discusses the proposed PV cell/module hybrid described by:
model and a basic solar system model using
I ph = [ I sc + (Tc Tref )] G (2.2)
Matlab/Simulink and Pspice. Section IV presents
simulation results under different shading conditions. The
Where = 0.0012 Isc , which is the temperature coefficient of
conclusion is given in Section V.
short-circuit current. G is solar irradiance level ( kW / m 2 ).
B. Solar Module Model
Solar cells are connected in series and parallel to form a PV
The well-known diode equation describes the operation of module. Based on single cell circuit module, the voltage and
the p-n junction solar PV cell [8, 10]. The p-n junction is current relationship of a PV module can be represented as [13]
fabricated in a layer of semiconductor [8]. Being illuminated
by sun light, photons with energy greater than semiconductor I = N p I ph N p I d [exp(q (V / N s + IRs / N p ) / kTc A 1]
band-gap energy are absorbed by solar cell. Valence electrons ( N pV / N s + IRs ) / R p
are knocked loose from the atoms in the material, creating
electron-hole pairs [9]. These carries are swept apart and form Ns and Np are the number of series and parallel connected
current by the internal electric fields of the p-n junction. solar cells in a module.

A. Solar Cell Model C. Solar Cell/Module Model under PSC

Fig. 1 shows a simple equivalent circuit for a PV cell [11]. Equation (2.3) is able to accurately model the behavior of a
The circuit includes a photo current source, a diode, a series solar module under Uniform Shading Conditions (USC).
resistor and a parallel resistor. However under PSC, Eq. (2.3) is unable to simulate this
condition. To account for PSC effects on solar module, instead
of using mathematical model, a Pspice electronic
components-based PV module model is developed, in which,
single solar cells are connected in series and parallel to form a
PV module. The advantage of Pspice model is that each solar
photo current is represented by a current source and PSC can
be simulated by adjusting values of current sources. However
compared to well-programmed mathematical-based model in
Matlab, the disadvantage of Pspice model is the inability to
incorporate detail surrounding condition information, thus
degrading the accuracy of the model. To combine both model
Fig. 1. Practical Model of Solar Cell [11]
types advantages, a hybrid PV cell/module model is proposed
The PV cell output current can be defined as a function of in this paper as presented next section.
the output voltage of the PV cell as follows.
I = I ph I d [exp(q(V + IRs ) / kTc A 1] (V + IRs ) / Rp
(2.1) A. PV Cell Modeling
Iph = Short-circuit current due to sunlight (photons); The basic circuit of a PV cell is modeled in Pspice, as
shown in Fig. 2. To account for the cell temperature and
Id = Current shunted through the diode; insolation effects on the solar cell photo current, as described in
Eq. (2.2), a mathematical-based model is built for this part in
R = Load resistance; Matlab/Simulink, as shown in Fig. 3 (a) and (b).

current requirements. In this paper, a PV module with five cells
connected in one string and two strings (String I and String II)
in parallel is created in Pspice, as shown in Fig. 5. To model
the module behavior under PSC, a bypass diode is connected in
parallel with each solar cell. To input temperature and
insolation information to each cell of the PV module,
schematic is implemented as shown in Fig. 6. In
Matlab/Simulink surrounding temperature and insolation
Fig. 2. Pspice Schematic of PV cell [11] information can be assigned to each individual solar cell to
obtain accurate photo current (each cell will have its own
current which may be different from the other cells).


Fig. 5. PV module schematic in Pspice

Fig. 3. (a) Photo current Matlab/Simulink calculation
block and (b) block details

The Pspice model of solar cell and Simulink functions are

combined together using Cadance software SLPS, as
shown in Fig. 4.

Fig. 6. Proposed hybrid model of PV module

C. Solar Module Interfaced with Power Converter

In practice, a PV module will be connected to a power
converter to supply power to the load. A basic solar PV system
Fig. 4. Proposed simulation model of PV cell is shown is Fig. 7. The proposed solar PV module model is
connected to a buck converter (for example) modeled in
Pspice (it could also be modeled in Matlab/Simulink).
The duty cycles of the controller for the converter can be
B. PV Module Modeling
provided by control block designed in Matlab. Furthermore,
To form a solar PV module, a number of solar cells are for future research advanced control function such as MPPT
connected in series and parallel to satisfy the voltage and can be realized in Matlab/Simulink.

Fig. 7. Proposed simulation model of PV module


The hybrid model of PV module shown in Fig. 5 is
A. Solar Cell Simulation Results simulated under USC (solar irradiance: 0.2kW / m 2 to
Fig. 8 shows the typical I-V and P-V characteristics curves 1.0kW / m 2 with 0.2kW / m 2 increments). Every cell in the
of the PV solar cell hybrid model shown in Fig. 4. The cell is PV module is equally illuminated. As shown in Fig. 9, the
illuminated under different levels of solar irradiance ( curves are linearly magnified compared to the curves in Fig.
0.4kW / m 2 to 1.0kW / m 2 with 0.2kW / m 2 increments), 8 because more cells are connected in series and in parallel.
assuming temperature remains constant. As seen from Fig. 8, As seen from the figure, under USC there is one unique peak
the photo current and output power of the cell increase with power value under different irradiance levels.
higher solar irradiance.

Fig. 8. Characteristics curves of PV cell under USC using Fig. 9. Characteristics curves of PV module under USC
the hybrid model using the hybrid model

C. Solar Module under PSC Fig. 12 shows the I-V and P-V curves when four cells
Fig. 10 and Fig. 11 show the proposed PV module from string I are shaded with 0.2kW / m 2 , 0.4kW / m 2 ,
characteristics curves obtained from the hybrid model when 0.6kW / m 2 and 0.8kW / m 2 irradiance, respectively. The
one cell and two cells on string I are under varying solar solar irradiance of the last cell is varied from 0.2kW / m 2 to
irradiance ( 0.2kW / m 2 to 1.0kW / m 2 with 0.2kW / m 2 1.0kW / m 2 . The multiple power peaks phenomenon is
increments). In both figures, the P-V curves are showing the clearly observed in this case. Fig. 13 shows the curves when
trend for having multiple peaks phenomenon. However, this one cell on each parallel string of the PV module is shaded.
phenomenon is not significant under these conditions. The
One cell on string II is under 0.2kW / m 2 irradiance and the
output power from the module when only one PV cell is
shaded is higher than it is when two cells are shaded. irradiance of the cell on string I is varied from 0.2kW / m 2 to
1.0kW / m 2 with 0.2kW / m 2 increments. In Fig. 13 the two
peak power values are clearly far from each other, indicating
that the multi-peak phenomenon is more significant when
cells from different strings are shaded.

Fig. 10. Hybrid model simulation results when one cell is

shaded under PSC

Fig. 12. Hybrid model simulation results when cells from

String I are shaded under PSC

Fig. 11. Hybrid model simulation results when two cells in

one string are shaded under PSC
Fig. 13. Hybrid model simulation results when two cells in
parallel strings are shaded under PSC

D. Solar Module with Power Converter Fig. 14 shows that by tuning the power converter duty
When a PV module is connected to a power converter, the cycle under USC with different solar irradiance levels, one
module voltage and current is determined by load voltage unique MPP can be tracked on the P-D (D indicates Duty
and the duty cycle of the power converter. By adjusting the Cycle) characteristics curve. This indicates that a
duty cycle, the output power from the PV module can be conventional MPPT method will work efficiently under
varied. Furthermore, this feature is utilized in maximum USC. However, in Fig. 15, when two cells of each string are
power point tracking techniques. The output power behavior shaded under different solar irradiance levels, multiple power
of a PV module with variable duty cycles are of crucial peaks on the curve exist. Fake MPPs exists on the P-D curve
importance in a solar system. To ensure the solar system will when duty cycles are close to 0.1 and 0.6 respectively due to
work under all conditions, the output power from PV module PSC effects on the PV module. The fake power peaks may
is recorded with power converter duty cycle scaling from 0 lead to wrong tracking of MPP thus reducing the output
to 1 using the hybrid model. power from the solar PV module.

70 The paper presents a Pspice and Matlab/Simulink
hybrid simulation model of PV cells/modules. The
60 0.6kW/m^2 simulation model is capable of predicting the behavior of
PV Module Power (P)

the PV cell/module under uniform and non-uniform

insolation. The PV cell/module and power converter is
designed in Pspice, due to the softwares simplicity and
accuracy in circuit design. To perform advanced duty cycle
control of power converter, the PWM controller for power
converter can be designed using Matlab/Simulink. The
hybrid solar system model also serves as a good tool for
future research in maximum power point tracking technique
(which will be implemented in the power converter
controller using Matlab/Simulink) in solar system under
0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1 ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
Duty Cycle (D) This work is sponsored in part by the U.S. - Egypt
Science and Technology Joint Fund in cooperation with
Fig. 14 Power versus converter duty cycle under USC U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) under USDA
Project # 58-3148-0-204 and Egyptian Science and
Technology Development Funds (STDF) under STDF
45 project # 1954. This work is also supported in part by The
2 cells 0.8
University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, USA. Any opinions,
40 kW/m^2 findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in
35 2 cells 0.4 this material are those of the author(s) and do not
necessarily reflect the views of the funding agencies.
PV Module Power (P)

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