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Solar energy is the energy force that sustains life on earth for all plants, animals and humans. The earth receives this radiant energy from the sun in form of electromagnetic waves, which the sun continually emits into space. The flow of the sun power reaching the earth is typically about 1000 watts per square meter (w/m2) although availability varies with location and time of year. Solar energy is a renewable source that is inexhaustible and is locally available. It is a clean energy source that allows for local energy independence. Electricity can be produced from sunlight through direct heating of fluids to generate steam for large-scale centralized electrical energy (Solar thermal electrical generation) or alternatively, through the process of Photovoltaic, which can be applied in either a centralized or decentralized fashion. Photovoltaic cells are regarded as one of the major technologies towards a sustainable energy supply and the key to successful photovoltaic installation is to use quality components that has long-life expectancy and requires minimal maintenance.
2. PHOTOVOLTAIC ARRAY
Photovoltaic cells are devices that use the photovoltaic effect of semiconductors to generate direct – current (D.C) electrical energy from the radiant energy of the sun. Photovoltaic cells are made up of semi-conducting materials most commonly SILICON, coated with special additives. When light strikes the cell, electrons are knocked loose from the silicon atom and flow in a built – in-circuit producing electricity. Photovoltaic cells are electrically connected and encapsulated as a module. P.V modules are designed to have a sheet of glass on the front side with a resin barrier behind, allowing light to pass while protecting the semi-conductors from elements like rain, hail stones e.t.c. Photovoltaic cells are designed to absorb as much light as possible and are interconnected in series and/or parallel electrical connections to produce desired voltages and currents. Connecting cells in parallel will yield higher amperage while connecting them in series increases the voltage output. In other words, a P.V module is a combination of P.V cells wired together in series or/and parallel with the purpose
2 of generating a specific current and voltage at a given level of irradiance. An array of solar panels converts solar energy into usable amount of direct current (d.c) electricity. Optionally, the d.c produced by the P.V array is supplied to an INVERTER, which converts the d.c electricity to 220Volts A.C electric power. The power output of a P.V array is given in WATTS or KILOWATTS but in order to calculate the energy needed by an equipment, a measurement in Watt-hour per day is used. Note that if a P.V array is designed to produce 50V but the load to be used only requires 30V, the load will only draw 30V from the P.V array even though the array is able to produce more voltages. The remaining electricity that is not used may be recycled and reused in other facilities.
PHOTOVOLTAIC CELL THEORY
Photons from the radiant rays of the sun hit the photovoltaic panels and are absorbed by the silicon material and this action generates electron-hole pairs. Thus, when photons are absorbed, its energy is given to an electron in the crystal lattice. Usually, this electron will be in the valence bond and tightly bond in covalent bounding between neighboring atoms, hence, unable to move far. The energy given to it by the photons “excites” it into the conduction band where it is free to move around within the semi-conductor. This entire process means that the negatively charged electrons are knocked loose from their atoms, and this allows them to flow through the material to produce electricity. The complementary positively charged holes are also created during this process and they flow in the opposite direction with respect to the electrons in the silicon solar panel.
EQUIVALENT CIRCUIT OF A P.V CELL
To understand the electronic behaviour of a solar cell, it is useful to create a model, which is electrically equivalent, and is based on discrete electrical components whose behaviors’ are well known. A solar cell may be modeled by a current source in parallel with a diode. A Shunt resistant and a series resistant component are also added to the model.
MAXIMUM POWER POINT
A P.V cell may operate over a wide rage of voltages and currents. By increasing the resistive load on an irradiated cell from zero (a short circuit) to a high value (an open circuit), one can determine the maximum electrical power output that the cell delivers at that level of irradiation. It is given as
Pm = V x I (in watts)
ENERGY CONVERSION EFFICIENCY
A P.V cell energy conversion efficiency is the percentage of the power converted (from absorbed light to electrical energy) and collected when a solar cell is connected to an electrical circuit. It is given as
Pm x 100 E x Ac Where Pm – Maximum power point in watts E - Light irradiance in w/m2 Ac - Surface area of solar cell in m2
This is defined as the maximum power point divided by the open circuit voltage Voc and the short circuit current Isc. It is given as FF =
Voc x Isc
OTHER APPLICATIONS OF SOLAR ENERGY
As mentioned earlier, solar energy is a renewable source that is inexhaustible, locally available and also allows for energy independence. Solar energy and its applications are used in areas such as Orbiting satellite and space crafts Solar electric generation Radiotelephones and roadside emergency telephones in remote locations Solar cooking Solar automobiles Calculators and wristwatches Solar water pumping.
ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF SOLAR POWER
Advantages The use of photovoltaic in solar systems accounts for long life expectancy of the system (more than 20 years). Solar facilities operated with little maintenance or intervention after initial setup. Solar power is pollution free. Solar electric generation is economically competitive where grid connection or fuel transportation is difficult, costly or impossible e.g satellites, remote locations, ocean vessels etc. Disadvantages P.V cells produce d.c which must be converted to A.C before using with A.C appliances To get enough energy for applications, a larger number of P.V cells are needed. This increases the cost. Solar cells are expensive, and require a large initial capital when purchasing.
3. SOLAR WATER PUMPING SYSTEM
Solar Water Pumping systems are very economical and effective when using Photovoltaic’s in remote areas where other power supplies are not available and the use of P.V water pumps has been greatly employed because of its simplicity, reliability and operations with almost no maintenance. Thousands of solar pumps are working throughout the world, and they produce best during sunny weather when the need for water is greatest. P.V water pumps are similar to any other pumping system, only that the power source is solar energy.
All P.V Pumps have their rated power and flow rates. The major factors to be considered before designing a P.V pump system include. The current voltage demand of the pump. The depth of the water source and height of storage tank The mechanical work done by the pump The desired flow rate.
5 The cost of the system.
For more sophisticated designs, the following factors are considered and they include. The water temperature The pipeline pressure allowance The electrical and heat losses The pump characteristics These factors listed for the sophisticated design are not always required when designing a P.V pump, but they serve as a reference guide to understand the principles of solar water pumping.
FLOW RATE CONVERSIONS
To determine the flow rate required by a pump system, the equation below is used. Cubic meter per hour (m3/h) = Cubic meter per day Available peak sun hour per day Peak sun hours refer to the average equivalent hours of full-sun energy received per day. It varies with the location and the season of the year. There are also other units of measurement, which is used to calculate the flow rate of a pump system. They are The imperial gallon per minute (Ig/m) The U.S gallon per minute (Usg/m) The liter per minute (L/m) The Kilogram per second (Kg/s) (which is used at standard temperature).
6 The following table shows the conversion values of the different flow rate units (assuming the water pressure remains constant). Table 1. Main Unit m3/h 1 Table 2. Main Unit Ig/m 1 CONVERTING FROM M3/h TO OTHER UNITS Other Units Ig/m 3.66 Usg/m 4.39 L/m 16.67 Kg/s 0.277
CONVERTING FROM Ig/m TO OTHER UNITS Other Units Usg/m 1.2009 L/m 4.5 Kg/s 0.075 M3/h 0.27
Table 3. Main Unit Usg/m 1
CONVERTING FROM Usg/m TO OTHER UNITS Other Units Ig/m 0.833 M3/h 0.23 L/m 3.8 Kg/s 0.06
Table 4. Main Unit L/m 1
CONVERTING FROM L/m TO OTHER UNITS Other Units Ig/m 0.22 Usg/mh 0.27 M3/h 0.06 Kg/s 0.0166
Table 5. Main Unit Kgls 1
CONVERTING FROM Kg/s TO OTHER UNITS Other Units Ig/m 13.33 Usg/m 16.67 M3/h 3.70 L/m 60.24
7 Work example – A pump provides 3.40m3 of water in a day with 10 hours as the available peak sun hours. The flow rate of the pump will be Flow rate = Cubic Meter per day Available peak sun hours per day =3.40 10 = 0.34m3/h
Converting 0.3m3/h to the other flow rate units will give 5.7L/m, 1.26Ig/m, 1.5Usg/m and 0.1kg/s.
CLASSIFICATIONS OF P.V PUMPS
The Photovoltaic pump can be classified into a D.C pump or an A.C pump. The D.C pump is specially designed to utilize D.C electric power from the P.V array while the A.C pump uses the A.C electric power from an inverter that is connected to a P.V circuit. Further classifications of the P.V pump are into the surface pump and the submersible pump. The surface pump is one that is mounted at ground level (e.g a shallow pond). Surface pumps can only draw water from depths of about 6m, but they can push it far uphill. The submersible pump on the other hand, could be used as a surface pump or lowered into water. It can draw water from depths exceeding 100m below ground level. These classifications of the P.V water pumps have led to the enormous designs of pumps by various manufacturers.
PHOTOVOLTAIC D.C PUMP SYSTEM
The D.C pump is a low voltage pumps that is designed to operate at reduced power. The D.C power received by the pump from the D.C array is controlled by two parameters, which are The solar irradiance available to the modules. The current and voltage demand of the pump.
The voltage production of a P.V cell remains practically constant under all levels irradiance, but the current produced is directly proportional to the level of irradiance available at any given point in time.
A pump controller is an electronic device used in most D.C pumps and it acts like an automatic transmission that helps the pump to start, and also not to stall in weak sunlight. The pump controller supplies the pump with the required D.C electric power
There is need to use a SOLAR TRACKER to tilt the P.V array as the sun moves across the sky. This increases the daily energy gained by the P.V array. Tracking works best in clear and sunny weather and is less effective in cloudy climates.
ELEVATED WATER STORAGE TANK
It is most economical to pump water and store in a tank when using the D.C pump. While storing the water in a tank, a float switch can turn the pump off when the water reaches an appreciable level to prevent overflow. Work example –A submersible D.C pump is designed to lift water from a well of 50 meters to an elevated storage tank of 30m. What will be the power required by the pump to lift 20m3 of water in a day. (Taking available peak sun hours to be 8 hours and acceleration due to gravity to be 9.8m/s2). Solution: Flow rate of the pump cubic meter per day Available peak sun hours per day = 20 8 = 2.5m3/h At constant water pressure 1m3/h = 0.277kg/s 2.5m3/h=0.7kg/s So, Flow rate of pump = 0.7kg/s Acc due to gravity = 9.8m/s2 Total height (from the well to the elevated tank) will be (50+30) m = 80m ...Power = flow rate x Total height x acc due to gravity = (0.7x80x 9.8) = 548.8J/s =
9 The power needed by the pump is 548.8J/s and the system will require a P.V array that will produce 548.8watts [1J/s = 1 Watt]. It is important to add an extra 20% power to the array to prevent the losses associated with the system. So an array of 570watts in direct sunlight (at solar irradiance of 1000w/m2) will operate the pump smoothly.
ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF THE D.C PUMP SYSTEM
Advantages It work during low light conditions at reduced power without stalling or Overheating (they pump water using absolute minimal electric power). It is easy to install and require no special skills. It is less expensive than A.C pumps Lift capacity is maintained even while pumping slowing. It pumps water at very slow rate. There is great need for storage of water into tanks. A long period of time is required to pump sufficient water.
PHOTOVOLTAIC AC PUMP SYSTEM
Pumping water with a high flow rate is achieved by using A. C Pump. This involves the operation of a P.V array, a charge controller, a storage battery, an inverter and an A.C pump motor.
A charge controller is an essential part of nearly all power systems that charges batteries. Its purpose in the P.V Pump circuit is to keep the batteries or the inverter properly fed and safe during the period of operation. The basic functions of the charge controller are to Block Reverse Current and Prevent Overcharge. BLOCKING REVERSE CURRENT: In an A. C pump system, the P.V arrays supplies current to a battery or an inverter in one direction. At night, the arrays may pass a bit of current in the reverse direction, causing a slight discharge from the battery /inverter. Although the potential loss is minor, but it is easy to prevent using the charge controller.
10 In most charge controllers, current passes through a semi-conductor e.g. a transistor, which acts like a valve to control the current and allows the current to pass only in one direction. In other controllers, an electromagnetic coil opens and closes a mechanical switch, which is called a relay. The relay switches off at night to block reverse current. Note that when using a very small array relative to the size of the battery, a charge controller might not be needed but instead, a blocking diode will be used to block the reverse current. PREVENTING OVERCHARGE: When a battery reaches its full charge, it will
no longer store incoming energy. If there is continuous flow of energy at full rate, the battery voltage gets too high. This will cause the battery to over heat and the excessive voltage can stress the electrical appliances or cause the inverter to shut off. Preventing overcharge is simply the ability of the charge controller to reduce the flow of energy that is supplied to the battery when the battery has gained a specific amount of voltage. When the battery voltage drops due to electrical usage, the charge controller allows the battery to reach its maximum possible charge. This is called VOLTAGE REGULATION and is the most essential function of a charge controller.
Most deep well pumps require 220VAC. This will initiate the use of an inverter with a P.V pump system. An inverter converts D.C to A.C electric power and also changes the voltage (D.C flows in a single direction, A.C alternates it’s directions many times per second). An inverter is a power adapter. Pump systems using inverters employs high flow rates of pumping water. The power output of an inverter is rated in watts. Before selecting an inverter to be used in pump circuit, one should know the basic functions, capabilities, and limitations of the inverter. There are three levels of power rating exhibited by an inverter, which are. Continuous rating: The amount of power the inverter can handle for an indefinite period of time. Limited time rating: The higher number of watts that the inverter can handle for a defined period of time. Torque capacity: The inverters ability to start the pump.
11 An inverters specification should define these ratings in relation with the ambient temperature (the temperature of the surrounding atmosphere) because if the inverter gets too hot, it will shut off. An A.C Pump can be real power hog and required a high amount of current when starting. The table below shows the power rating of a modified sine wave inverter required by A.C submersible pumps. Table 6 HP of pump Power of pump Min rating sine wave Min running power (Watts) (Watts) 0.5 0.75 1.0 1.5 2.0 372 558 745 1117 1490 invert (KW) 2.0 2.4 2.8 4.5 5.0 970 1325 1600 2150 2650
Minimum continuous power rating of an sine wave inverter to start an A.C submersible well pump (with more additional loads). An advantage of using an inverter with the P. V circuits is that it can be used to pump water and at the same time, operate other electrical appliances. Inverter manufacturers always specify the type and size of inverter that would be most suitable for an operation.
ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF THE A.C PUMP SYSTEM
Advantages It pumps water at higher flow rate than water. It is used to pump larger volumes of water Other electrical appliances may be used simultaneously with the pump motor even when it is pumping water. Disadvantages
It is more expensive than the D.C pumps It is operate with a high amount of power than the D.C pumps The operation of A.C pump is dependent on the inverter
BENEFITS OF THE P.V PUMP SYSTEM
There is no limit to how large solar pump systems can be built. Proper installation of quality P.V pump systems can provide over 20 years of reliable and continuous services and it is beneficial areas like livestock watering, irrigation and domestic water usage. For instance, the operation of a 400watts D.C submersible pump lifting water from a well of 50m to an elevated storage tank of 30m with a flow rate of 1.80m 3/h (0.5kg/s at constant water pressure). In a 10 hour sunny day, the pump will lift 18.0m3 of water. This will be enough to supply several families, or 150 head of cattle or 200 fruit trees. Small solar pumps may be installed without heavy equipments or special skills. However, larger P.V pump system using the solar tracker will reduce the number of P.V arrays to be installed.
PREVENTING PUMP DAMAGE
The basic steps taken to prevent the P.V water pump from damage are. Step 1Accurate calculations of the size of the P.V module, the desired flow rate, the depth of water source e.t.c has to be determined before purchasing a pump. Step 2Pumps should not be mounted above the water source so as to avoid cavitations. Step 3Maintaining the draw down level of the water source. The draw down is the amount of water that is available above the pump intake. In situations where the pump’s flow rate is greater than the natural refilling rate of water back to its source, the water source will run short of water and potentially cause damage to the pump.
Communities in remote to locations can now enjoy an easy way of supplying Water for the purpose of livestock watering, irrigation and domestic water usage because of the P.V pump systems. It might be optional to use a storage battery or an elevated storage tank because solar energy will always be available even when the water is not required. This has made solar water pumping to become cost competitive when compared with other methods of pumping water. Photovoltaic technology is continuously improving the power conversion efficiency of the photovoltaic cells. The increase in photovoltaic cell efficiency will reduce the cost of P.V modules, because power modules will produce the same amount of power as a larger one. In the future, solar energy and its applications will come into a widespread use in power generation because of its availability operation with almost no maintenance and a pollution free source of energy.
REFERENCES Windy Dan Koff. Solar water pumping. A practical Introduction. National renewable energy Laboratory (USA). Reported timeline of Solar cell conversion efficiency Mark Hankins. Solar electric systems for Africa. Revised edition Muhammed Harnur Rashid. Power electronics hand book. Power electronics for renewable energy sources Revised edition. Windy Dan Koff. Inverter sizing for submersible pump application Gary H. P. 1987. Advances in solar energy technology. Volume 3. Reidel publishing, Boston, M A. Halcrow S. W and Partners. 1981. Small-scale solar powered Irrigation pumping systems: technical and economic Review UNDP project. Florida Solar Energy Center. 1988. Photovoltaic design: Course Manual. Cape Canaveral, FL. Salameh Z., A. K. Milpur and F. Dagher. 1989. Controller gets the last drop for Photovoltaic system. Solar today. Dinh. K. 1988. A Passive Photovoltaic-Powered Solar Tracker. Technical Bulletined. Dinh Company. Alachua, FL.
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