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2.1. Solar Radiation

Solar radiation is the most important natural energy resource because it drives
all environmental processes acting at the surface of the Earth. The Sun provides the
Earth with an enormous amount of energy. The energy stored by the oceans helps
maintain the temperature of the Earth at an equilibrium level that allows for stability
for a broad diversity of life. The solar radiation received just outside the earth’s
atmosphere is approximately 1367W/m2 on the surface normal to the sun. But it is
much less than this value due to absorption and scattering effect of the atmosphere.
On the ground of solar intensity of solar radiation is about 1000W/m2.
The potential of solar energy to produce heat and electricity to be supplied for
our modern economies in a variety of productive activities has been widely
demonstrated but not yet widely adopted around the globe due to relatively cheap
fossil fuels. Although the solar energy source is inexhaustible and free, it is not the
most convenient energy source because it is not constant during the day and not
readily dispatched. In contrast, modern lifestyles demand a continuous and reliable
supply of energy. However, there are ways to overcome these shortfalls.
In order to understand solar energy, this chapter discusses the resources, including
energy irradiated from the Sun, the geometrical relationship between the Sun and the
Earth, and orientation of energy receivers, as well as the importance of acquiring
reliable solar information for engineering design, operation, and management of solar
The following data characterize the dimensions of the sun;
Diameter 13.914×105 km
Surface Area 60.93×1011 km2
Volume 14.12×109 km3
Density 105 kg/m3 and
Average Distance 1.5×108 km from the earth
Figure 2.1.Earth–Sun geometric relationships

The sun radiates energy to the earth as two kinds of radiation, i.e.
i. The particle radiation
ii. The electromagnetic radiation
The particle radiation consists of small particle i.e protons and electron which
leave from the sun with a very high velocity, 500 km/sec. This radiation is called sun
The electromagnetic radiation spread in the range from very short wave length

(10-20 ) until very long wave length (103 ). But not all part of the earth because

the earth atmosphere is opaque to the sun’s ray except in the two ranges of frequency
bands. These bands penetrate to the earth.
The first transparent band is the optical band, from 0.2 until 3 . Only

optical band is importance for contained in this region. In this frequency band solar
radiation can be divided into four main regions.
Table 2.1. Approximate Distribution of Extraterrestrial Solar Energy among
Wavelength Ranges

Wavelength Range ) Radiation Intensity Approximate Percent

Btu/hr-ft2 W/m2
of Total Radiation
0.00 to0.40
(gamma through ultraviolet) 34 108 9.0
0.40 to 2.0
(visible) 168 528 39
0.70 to 2.0
(near-infrared) 197 622 46
2.0 and above
(far-infrared and beyond) 30 95 6

The second band is the radio wave band, from 10 -2m until102m. This radio
wave band is not important for conversion of solar energy because small energy
intensity of about 10-9 W/m2 is contained in this region.
The solar constant Gsc is the radiant energy received from the sun in unit time
on a unit area of surface perpendicular to the sun’s ray at the average sun-earth
distance outside the earth’s atmosphere. This radiation is attenuated in its passage
through the atmosphere and reduced by atmospherically absorption and scattering. As
the result the intensity of solar radiation available in the sunniest part of a sunny day
on the ground is around 1 kW/m2. But under cloudy skies it may vary from 0.3kW/m 2
to 0.6kW/m2.

2.2. The Usable Radiation

The radiation received just outside the earth’s atmosphere is approximately
1356W/m2 on the surface normal to the sun. But it is much less than this value due to
the absorption and scattering effect of the atmosphere. On the ground the intensity of
solar radiation is only about 1000W/m2.
The radiation intensity differs from place to place according to their position
(latitude) on the earth. Places with high latitude receive less radiation compare with
places on the equatorial area.

Figure 2.2. Direction of incoming solar radiation beam into Earth

Another difference between equatorial area and high latitude area is the
fluctuation of the radiation throughout the year. There are two fluctuations, i.e., daily
fluctuation is caused by the weather situation at that time. Clouds and rains is the
primary causal. The seasonal fluctuation influences the design of solar energy system
especially for the storage part of the system.
In the equatorial area the sun shines and sets every day with in the same time
or relatively in the same time. Therefore the seasonal fluctuation in the tropical area
can be neglected. But for high latitude area the sun shines longer in the summer and
shorter in the winter.
The intensity and spectrum of the radiation that is available on the surface of
the earth depends on:
i. Reflection of the atmosphere and the earth’s surface.
ii. Scattering in the earth’s atmosphere.
iii. Absorption by the atmosphere.
After passing through the atmosphere some parts of solar radiation are
scattering by the atmospherically substance (gases, dust and cloud). Therefore solar
radiation can be distinguished in two components i.e., the direct radiation and the
diffuse radiation or the scattered radiation. Even on a clear day there is some diffuse
radiation. The summation of direct solar radiation and diffuse radiant incident on a
surface placed horizontally on the earth is known as total radiation.
Figure 2.3. Solar radiation components

2.3. Types of Solar Radiation

Three types of solar radiation are:
i. Direct Radiation
ii. Diffuse Radiation
iii. Reflected Radiation

2.3.1. Direct Radiation

Direct radiation is the solar radiation that travels from the sun to a point on the
earth with negligible change in direction. It is the most significant type of radiation
for solar thermal processes. On a sunny day it can be as much as 80 percent of the
total sunlight striking a surface. The radiation that is not reflected or scattered and
reaches the surface straight forwardly from the solar disk is called direct or beam

2.3.2. Diffuse Radiation

When solar radiation enters the Earth’s atmosphere; a part of the incident
energy is removed by scattering or absorption by air molecules, clouds and particulate
matter usually referred to as aerosols. The scattered radiation which reaches the
ground is called diffuse radiation. On a cloudy day the sunlight is 100 percent diffuse.

2.3.3. Reflected Radiation

Some of the radiation may reach a panel after reflection from the ground, and
is called the ground reflected irradiation. This is either diffuse or direct radiation
reflected from the foreground onto the solar aperture. The amount of reflected
radiation varies significantly with the nature of foreground, being relatively higher for
a light colored environment tear the collector and relative lower for a dark-colored
environment. In the Liu and Jordon approach the diffuse and ground reflected
radiations are assumed to be isotropic.

Figure2.4. Solar radiation components segregated by the atmosphere and surface

2.3.4. Apparent Motion of the Sun

The apparent motion of the sun (Iqbal, 1983; Sproul, 2002), and its position at
solar noon, relative to a fixed observer at latitude 35°S (or N) is shown in Fig. 1.10.
The sun’s path varies over the year and is shown at its extreme excursions, the
summer and winter solstices, as well as at the equinoxes, its mid-season position. At
the equinoxes, (around March 21 and September 23), the sun rises due east and sets
due west and at solar noon, the altitude equals 90° minus the latitude.
At the winter and summer solstices (around June 21 and December 22,
respectively, for the southern hemisphere and the opposite for the northern
hemisphere), the altitude at solar noon is increased or decreased by the inclination of
the earth’s axis (23°27’). Equations that allow the sun’s position in the sky to be
calculated at any point in time are given in Appendix B. The latter are particularly
useful for overlaying the shading effects of nearby objects (Duffie & Beckman, 1991;
Quaschning & Hanitsch, 1995; Skiba et al., 2000).

Figure 2.5. Apparent Motion of the Sun for an Observer 35°S (or N)

2.3.5. Atmospheric Attenuation
The solar heat reaching the earth’s surface is reduced below G on because a
large part of it is scattered, reflected back out into space, and absorbed by the
atmosphere. As a result of the atmospheric interaction with the solar radiation, a
portion of the originally collimated rays becomes scattered or non-directional. Some
of this scattered radiation reaches the earth’s surface from the entire sky vault. This is
called the diffuse radiation. The solar heat that comes directly through the atmosphere
is termed direct or beam radiation. The isolation received by a surface on earth is the
sum of diffuse radiation and the normal component of beam radiation.
The solar heat at any point on earth depends on;
i. The ozone layer thickness
ii. The distance traveled through the atmosphere to reach that point
iii. The amount of haze in the air (dust particles, water vapor, etc.)
iv. The extent of the cloud cover
Figure 2.6. Air Mass Definition
The degree of attenuation of solar radiation traveling through the earth’s
atmosphere depends on the length of the path and the characteristics of the medium
traversed. In solar radiation calculations, one standard air mass is defined as the
length of the path traversed in reaching the sea level when the sun is at its zenith (the
vertical at the point of observation). The air mass is related to the zenith angle, (θz)
(Figure 2.6), without considering the earth’s curvature, by the equation:
cosθ z

Therefore, at sea level when the sun is directly overhead, i.e., when θz=0°, m=1(air
mass one); and when θz=60°, we get m=2 (air mass two).

2.4. Solar Time

Time based on the apparent angular motion of the sun across the sky, with the
solar noon time, the sun crosses the meridian of the observer.
Solar time is the time used in all of the sun-angle relationships; it does not
coincide with local clock time. It is necessary to convert standard time to solar time
by applying two corrections. First, there is a constant correction for the difference in
longitude between the observer’s meridian (longitude) and the meridian on which the
local standard time is based. The sun takes 4 minutes to transverse 1° of longitude.
The equation of time, which takes into account the perturbation in the earth’s rate of
rotation, which affect the time the sun crosses the observer’s meridian. The difference
in minutes between solar time and standard time is:
Solar time – standard time = 4(Lst - Lloc) + E (2.1)
E is the equation of time (in minute)
Its value is calculated by the following equation.
E = 229.2(0.000075+0.001868cosB-0.032077sinB-0..14615cosB-0.04089sinB) (2.2)
Lst = the standard meridian for the local time zone
Lloc = the longitude of the location
B  (n  1) and (2.3)
n is the day of the year (1≤n≤365), the day of February 29(Leap Year) is neglected.
The day of the year ‘n’ can be conveniently obtained from Table 3.1

Table 2.2. Declination and Earth–Sun Distance of the Representative Averaged Days
for Months
Month ith day of n for ith Day of the Declination Earth-Sun
the month Day of year δ distance EO in
Month n in degrees AU
January 17 i 17 -20.92 1.03
February 16 31+i 47 -12.95 1.02
March 16 59+i 75 -2.42 1.01
April 15 90+i 105 9.41 0.99
May 15 120+i 135 18.09 0.98
June 11 151+i 162 23.09 0.97
July 17 181+i 198 21.18 0.97
August 16 212+i 228 13.45 0.98
September 15 243+i 258 2.22 0.99
October 15 274+i 288 -9.60 1.01
November 14 304+i 318 -18.91 1.02
December 10 334+i 344 -23.05 1.03

Source: Adapted from Duffie, J.A., and W.A.Beckman.1991. Solar Engineering of

Thermal Process,2nd ed.,919. New York Wiley & Sons

2.5. Basic Equations for Sunshine Duration and Extraterrestrial Solar

Extraterrestrial solar irradiation (H0) and length of the day (N) can be estimated
deterministically by taking into consideration basic geographic and astronomic
quantities including latitude, (φ), declination, (δ), surface azimuth angle, (γ), hour
angle, (ω), zenith angle, (θz), solar altitude angle, (αs), solar azimuth angle, (γs) and
solar constant (ISC). Interrelationships among these variables are presented either in
the form of equations or tables in many solar energy books (Iqbal 1983; Duffie and
Beckman 2006). Figure 6.1 presents the astronomical configuration of these

Figure 2.7. Basic solar angles

In the following, the physical determinations and valid equations for such a
configuration are given.
(a) Latitude (φ)
It is the angular location north (positive) or south (negative) of the equator,
(-90◦ ≤ φ ≤ 90◦).

(b) Declination (δ)

It is the angular position of the sun at solar noon (i.e., when the sun is on the
local meridian) with respect to the equator plane, north direction has positive value
and its variation range is -23.45°≤ δ ≤ 23.45. The declination angle could be estimated
according to,

 284  n 
δ  23.45 360  (2.4)
 365 
Figure 2.8. Yearly variation of the solar declination angle

(c) Slope (β) or Tilted Angle

It is the angle between the plane of the surface in question and the horizontal,
(0°≤ β≤180°). (β>90° means that the surface has a downward facing component.)

(d) Surface azimuth angle (γ)

It is the deviation of the projection on a horizontal plane of the normal to the
surface from the local meridian, with zero due to south, east negative and west
positive, (−180° ≤ γ ≤ 180°).

(e) Hour angle (ω)

It is the angular displacement of the sun east or west of the local meridian due
to rotation of the earth on its axis at 15° per hour as morning negative and afternoon
positive. The hour angle ω is 0o at solar noon and increases with decreasing time to
360o. Because the earth rotates 15o per hour,
ω  15 t  12  in the morning (2.5)
ω  15 t  12  in the afternoon (2.6)
Where, t = the standard time

(f) Zenith angle (θz)

It is the angle between the vertical and the line to the sun i.e., the angle of
incidence of beam radiation on a horizontal surface. At solar noon zenith angle is
zero, in the sunrise and sunset this angle is 90°.
cosθ Z  cosφ cos δ cosω  sinφ sinδ (2.7)

(g) Solar altitude angle (αs)

It is the angle between the horizontal and the line to the sun, i.e., the
complement of zenith angle.

Figure 2.9. Solar altitude during the day for different latitudes during the equinoxes
when δ = 0°
(h) Solar azimuth angle (γs)
It is the angular displacement from south of the projection of beam radiation
on the horizontal plane. Displacements east of south are negative and west of south
are positive. Solar azimuth angle can be estimated as,
sinγs = cosδ sinω sinθz
There is a set of useful relationships among these angles. Equations relating the angle
of incidence of beam radiation on a surface, θ, to the other angles are:

cosθ = sinδ sinφ cosβ – sinβ cos φ sin cosγ + cosδ cos φ cosβ cos ω + cosδ
sinφ sinβ cosγ + cosδ sinβ sinγ sin ω
cosθ  cos θ Z cos β  sin θ Z sin βcos  γ s  γ 

For horizontal surfaces, the angle of incidence is the zenith angle of the sun, θ z
. Its values must be between 0° and 90° when the sun is above the horizon. For this
situation, β=0°, and Equation () becomes
cosθ Z  cos φ cos δ cosβ  sin φsin δ

The solar azimuth angle γs can have values in the range of 180° to -180°. For
north or south latitudes between 23.45° and 66.45°, will be between 90° and -90° for
days less than 12 hours long; for day with more than 12 hours between sunrise and
sunset, γs will be greater than 90° or less than -90° early and late in the day when the
sun is north of the east-west line in the northern hemisphere. For tropical latitudes, γ s
can have any value when (δ- φ) is positive in the northern hemisphere or negative in
the southern. The equation for sola azimuth angle is:

 1  C1C 2 
γ s  C1C 2 γ s'  C 3  180 (2.8)
 2 

tanγ s' 
sinδ cosω  cosφ tanδ

sinω cosω
sinγ s' 
sinθ z

 1 if ωs  ωew
C1  
 1 if ωS  ωew

1 if  φ - δ  0
C2  
 1 if  φ - δ  0
1 if ω  0
C3  
 1 if ω  0
cosω s   tanφ tanδ
(i) Length of the day (N)
This term is described as time duration between sunrise and sunset. The
sunrise hour angle (ωs), when the zenith angle of the sun θz is 90o, is calculated from:
ωs  cos 1  tanφ tanβ 

The sunset hour angle is equal to the sunrise hour angle except for the sign
difference, when facing directly to south or north. The day length N is 2ωs, and
expressed in hours:
N cos 1   tanφ tanδ 
The sunrise hour angle at a tilted surface ωs facing the equator, in degrees will be:
ω s'  cos 1  tan  φ  β  tanδ

2.6. Extraterrestrial solar irradiation (H0)

Extraterrestrial solar irradiation is important not only for solar engineering
calculation but also for energy balance of the earth. It is a function of solar constant,
sun-earth distance ratio and declination angle. Sun earth distance ratio changes with
time of the year and it is expressed as,
R 1

R 2π n
1  0.0333cos
Where R is the mean value of sun-earth distance which is equal to 1.49×10 11 m; R is
the actual sun-earth distance; n is the day number in the year and Y is the total day of
year. All these angles and aforementioned equations take part in the determination of
H0 and S0. Consequently, H0 received from the sun on a unit area of surface
perpendicular to the radiation direction of propagation, at any earth-sun distance,
outside of the atmosphere, can be estimated as,
HO   
 R  I sc cosθ z
 

as the total extraterrestrial solar irradiation from sunrise to sunset becomes

H O     I sc cosθ Z dt
SSunrise 
It is obvious that for solar irradiation estimation extraterrestrial solar
irradiation and sunshine duration have the same importance, i.e., they are directly and
functionally related to each other. Equation (6.9) indicates total extraterrestrial solar
irradiation intensity change depending on the length of day and sun-earth
astronomical position.
At any point in time, the solar radiation incident on a horizontal plane outside
of the atmosphere is the nominal incident solar radiation.
 360 
G o  G sc 1  0.033cos cosθ z 2.9
 365 

Here Gsc is the solar constant and ‘n’ is the day of the year. Combining Equation (2.6)
with Equation(2.9) given Go for a horizontal surface at any time between sunrise and
 360 
G o  G sc 1  0.033cos  cosθ cosδ cosω  sinθ sinδ  2.10
 365 

It is often necessary for calculation of daily solar radiation to have the

integrated extraterrestrial radiation on a horizontal surface, Ho. This is obtained by
integrating Equation (2.10) over the period from sunrise to sunset.
24  3600  G sc  360  πω 
Ho  1  0.033cos  cosθ cosδ cosωs  s sinθ sinδ  2.11
π  365  180 
Ho = daily extraterrestrial radiation on a horizontal surface, MJ/m2
Gsc = solar constant, 1367 W/m2
ωs = sunset hour angle, degree
For the extraterrestrial radiation on a horizontal surface for an hour period, the
following formula is used
12  3600  G sc  360  π ω 2  ω1  
Io  1  0.033cos  cosθ cosδ  sinω 2  ω1   sinθ sinδ 
π  365  180 

Where, ω 2 must be larger than ω1 .

2.7. Total Radiation upon Tilted Surfaces on Earth

Usually, collectors are not installed horizontally but at an angle to
increase the amount of radiation intercepted and reduce refection and cosine
losses. Therefore, system designers need data about solar radiation on such titled
surfaces; measured or estimated radiation data, however, are mostly available either
for normal incidence or for horizontal surfaces. Therefore, there is a need to convert
these data to radiation on tilted surfaces.
The amount of isolation on a terrestrial surface at a given location for a given
time depends on the orientation and slope of the surface. A flat surface absorbs beam
(GBt), diffuse (GDt), and ground-reflected (GGt) solar radiation; that is,
G T  G Bt  G Dt  G Gt

As shown in Figure 2.28, the beam radiation on a tilted surface is

G Bt  G Bn cos θ 

and on a horizontal surface, G B  G Bn cos θ Z 

GBt = beam radiation on a tilted surface (W/m2)
GB = beam radiation on a horizontal surface (W/m2)

It follows that
G Bt G Bn cosθ cosθ
Rb   
G B G Bn cosθ z cosθ z

Figure indicates the angle of incidence of beam radiation on the horizontal and tilted

Figure 2.10. Beam Radiation on Horizontal and Tilted Surface

Equation () and Equation () can be used to determined cos θ z and θ , respectively ,
leading , for the northern hemisphere , for γ =0°, to
cos φ  β  cos cos ω  sin  φ  β  sinδ
Rb 
cosφ cosδ cosω  sinφ sinδ

In the southern hemisphere, γ =180° and the equation is

2.8. Estimation of Hourly Radiation from Daily Data

When hour-by-hour performance calculations for a system are to be done, it
may be necessary to start with daily data and estimate hourly values from daily
number. Statistical studies of the time distribution of total radiation on horizontal
surfaces through the day, using monthly average data for a number of stations, led to
generalized charts of rt, the ratio of hourly total daily radiation, a function of day
length and the hour in question:
rt 
The following equation from Collares-Pereira and Rabl,

rt 
 a  bcosω cosωπω ωs
24 sinωs  s cos ωs
The coefficient a and b are given by
a  0.409  0.5016sin  ωs  60 

b  0.6609  0.4767sin ωs  60

In these equations (ω) the hour angle in degree for the time in question and (ω s) is the
sunset hour angle.
The ratio of hourly diffuse to daily diffuse radiation, as a function of time and
day length. It can be used to estimate hourly average of diffuse radiation if the
average daily radiation is knows:
rd 
The ratio of hourly total daily radiation can be represented by the following equation
from Liu and Jordan.
π cosω  ωs
rd 
24 sinω  πωs cos ω
s s
For each hour or hour-pair, the monthly average hourly radiation incident on
the collector is given by
   1  cos β 
I  H rt  H rd R b  H rd 
 1  cos β 
  H ρ g rt 

   

or by dividing by H and introducing H  K T H o

 Ho  1  cosβ   1  cosβ 
rd R b  d rd 
I  K T H o  rd     ρ g rt  
 H  H  2   2 

Where, K T = the monthly average daily radiation on horizontal surface

H o = the monthly average extraterrestrial radiation

= the daily fraction of diffuse radiation

2.9. The difference between solar thermal and solar PV systems

The sun delivers its energy to us in two main forms: heat and light. There are
two main types of solar power systems, namely, solar thermal systems that trap heat to
warm up water, and solar PV systems that convert sunlight directly into electricity as
shown in Figure 3.1.

Figure 3.1.The difference between solar thermal and solar PV systems

When the PV modules are exposed to sunlight, they generate direct current
(“DC”) electricity. An inverter then converts the DC into alternating current (“AC”)
electricity, so that it can feed into one of the building’s AC distribution boards
(“ACDB”) without affecting the quality of power supply.
2.10. Types of Solar PV System
Solar PV systems can be classified based on the end-use application of the
technology. There are two main types of solar PV systems: grid-connected (or grid-
tied) and off-grid (or stand alone) solar PV systems.

2.10.1 Grid-connected solar PV systems

Most solar PV systems are installed on buildings or mounted on the ground if
land is not a constraint. For buildings, they are either mounted on the roof or
integrated into the building. The latter is also known as Building Integrated
Photovoltaic’s (“BIPV”). With BIPV, the PV module usually displaces another
building component, e.g. window glass or roof/wall cladding, thereby serving a dual
purpose and offsetting some costs. The configuration of a grid-connected solar PV
system is shown in Figure 3.2.

Figure 3.2. Grid-connected solar PV system configuration

A building has two parallel power supplies, one from the solar PV system and
the other from the power grid. The combined power supply feeds all the loads
connected to the main ACDB. The ratio of solar PV supply to power grid supply
varies, depending on the size of the solar PV system. Whenever the solar PV supply
exceeds the building’s demand, excess electricity will be exported into the grid. When
there is no sunlight to generate PV electricity at night, the power grid will supply all
of the building’s demand. A grid-connected system can be an effective way to reduce
your dependence on utility power, increase renewable energy production, and improve
the environment.

2.10.2 Off-grid solar PV systems

Off-grid solar PV systems are applicable for areas without power grid.
Currently, such solar PV systems are usually installed at isolated sites where the
power grid is far away, such as rural areas or off-shore islands. But they may also be
installed within the city in situations where it is inconvenient or too costly to tap
electricity from the power grid.

Figure 3.3. Off-grid solar PV system configuration

An off-grid solar PV system needs deep cycle rechargeable batteries such as

lead-acid, nickel-cadmium or lithium-ion batteries to store electricity for use under
conditions where there is little or no output from the solar PV system, such as during
the night, as shown in Figure 3.3.

2.11. Solar PV Technology

This section gives a brief description of the solar PV technology and the
common technical terms used. A solar PV system is powered by many crystalline or
thin film PV modules. Individual PV cells are interconnected to form a PV module.
This takes the form of a panel for easy installation.

Mono-Crystalline Silicon PV Cell Poly-Crystalline Silicon PV Cell

Figure 3.4. Mono-and Poly-Crystalline Silicon PV Cell

Mono-crystalline Poly-crystalline Flexible amorphous thin film

silicon silicon
Figure 3.5. Common PV module technologies CIGS thin film

PV cells are made of light-sensitive semiconductor materials that use photons

to dislodge electrons to drive an electric current. There are two broad categories of
technology used for PV cells, namely, crystalline silicon, as shown in Figure 3.4
which accounts for the majority of PV cell production; and thin film, which is newer
and growing in popularity. The “family tree” in Figure 3.6 gives an overview of these
technologies available today and Figure 3.5 illustrates some of these technologies.
Figure 3.6.PV Technology Family Tree

2.11.1. Crystalline Silicon and Thin Film Technologies

Crystalline cells are made from ultra-pure silicon raw material such as those
used in semiconductor chips. They use silicon wafers that are typically 150-200
microns (one fifth of a millimeter) thick. Thin film is made by depositing layers of
semiconductor material barely 0.3 to 2 micrometers thick onto glass or stainless steel
substrates. As the semiconductor layers are so thin, the costs of raw material are much
lower than the capital equipment and processing costs.
Apart from aesthetic differences, the most obvious difference amongst PV cell
technologies is in its conversion efficiency, as summarized in Table 3.1. For example,
a thin film amorphous silicon PV array will need close to twice the space of a
crystalline silicon PV array because its module efficiency is halved, for the same
nominal capacity under Standard Test Conditions1 (STC) rating.
For crystalline silicon PV modules, the module efficiency is lower compared
to the sum of the component cell efficiency due to the presence of gaps between the
cells and the border around the circuit i.e., wasted space that does not generate any
power hence lower total efficiency.

Table 3.1. Conversion Efficiencies of Various PV Module Technologies

Technology Module Efficiency

Mono-crystalline Silicon 12.5-15%

Poly-crystalline Silicon 11-14%

Copper Indium Gallium Selenide (CIGS) 10-13%

Cadmium Telluride (CdTe) 9-12%

Amorphous Silicon (a-SI) 5-7%

2.11.2. Effects of Temperature

Another important differentiator in solar PV performance, especially in hot
climates, is the temperature coefficient of power. PV cell performance declines as cell
temperature rises. Most thin film technologies have a lower negative temperature
coefficient compared to crystalline technologies. In other words, they tend to lose less
of their rated capacity as temperature rises.

Table 3.2. Temperrature Coefficient of Various PV Cell Technology

Technology Tenperature Coefficient (%/C)
Crystalline Silicon -0.4 to -0.5
CIGS -0.32 to -0.36
CdTe -0.25
a-Si -0.21

A PV module data sheet should specify the temperature coefficient. See Table 3.2.
and chart in Figure 3.7.
Figure 3.7.The Effects of a Negative Temperature Coefficient of Power PV Module

2.11.3. Technical Information

Single-core, double isolated sheathed cables that can withstand the
environmental conditions, and minimize the risk of earth faults and short circuits are
used to interconnect the PV strings and arrays. The cable connections are protected in
enclosures known as junction box that provides the necessary connectors as shown in
Figure 3.10.

Figure 3.10. Junction Box

Electricity produced by the solar PV installation is in the form of DC. The

output of the PV installation is connected through the DC main cables to the DC
terminals of the PV inverter where electricity is converted from DC into AC. After
conversion, the AC current of the PV inverter is connected through PV supply cable to
the building’s electrical installation (AC distribution board).

Figure 3.11. Typical PV inverter connected to a building’s electrical installation

Figure 3.11 shows a typical PV inverter connected to the electrical installation
of a building. Note that the actual configuration of the PV inverter may vary across
different systems.

2.12. PV Cells, Modules and Array

Photovoltaic systems are designed around the photovoltaic cell. Since a typical
photovoltaic cell produces less than 3 watts at approximately 0.5 volt DC, cells must
be connected in series-parallel configurations to produce enough power for high-
power applications. Figure 4.1 shows how cells are configured into modules, and
how modules are connected as arrays. Modules may have peak output powers
ranging from a few watts, depending upon the intended application, to more than 300
watts. Typical array output power is in the 100-watt-to-kilowatt range, although
megawatt arrays do exist.
Since PV arrays produce power only when illuminated, PV systems often
employ an energy storage mechanism so the captured electrical energy may be made
available at a later time. Most commonly, the storage mechanism consists of
rechargeable batteries, but it is also possible to employ more exotic storage
mechanisms. In addition to energy storage, storage batteries also provide transient
suppression, system voltage regulation and a source of current that can exceed PV
array capabilities.
Photovoltaic energy conversion is the direct conversion of light energy to
electric energy. PV power is generated when the following conditions are satisfied.
Radiation of appropriate wavelengths must be absorbed by an upper layer of
dissimilar semiconducting materials so that some electrons jump to a higher
conducting band energy level, thereby creating mobile electron/hole pairs. The
electron/hole pairs must then migrate to opposite sides of a built-in voltage barrier
between the dissimilar materials, where the charges are collected at low resistance
metallic contacts. Direct-current (DC) power can be extracted if the two oppositely
charged contacts are then connected through an external load circuit. Desired currents
and voltages are obtained by connecting cells in series and parallel to form modules,
and by aggregating modules in series and parallel groupings to form arrays. Though
the magnitudes of currents and voltages differ, the electrical characteristics are similar
for cells, modules, or arrays.
When a battery storage mechanism is employed, it is common to also
incorporate a charge controller into the system, so the batteries can be prevented from
reaching either an overcharged or over discharged condition. It is also possible that
some or all of the loads to be served by the system may be ac loads. If this is the case,
an inverter will be needed to convert the dc from the PV array to ac. If a system
incorporates a backup system to take over if the PV system does not produce adequate
energy, then the system will need a controller to operate the backup system. It is also
possible that the PV system will be interconnected with the utility grid. Such systems
may deliver excess PV energy to the grid or use the grid as a backup system in case of
insufficient PV generation. These grid interconnected systems need to incorporate
suitable interfacing circuitry so the PV system will be disconnected from the grid in
the event of grid failure. Figure 3.2 shows the components of several types of
photovoltaic systems. This chapter will emphasize the characteristics of PV system
components in order to pave the way for designing systems in the following chapters.
Figure 4.1. Cells, Modules and Arrays

2.12.1. The PV Cell

The PV cell is a specially designed pn junction or Schottky barrier device. The
well-known diode equation describes the operation of the shaded PV cell.

Figure 4.2. Diagram of a Simple P-N Junction PV Cell

Figure 1. A schematic of the layers of a typical PV cell [4]

Figure 4.3.Internal Wiring of a Solar Power Cell

When the cell is illuminated, electron-hole pairs are produced by the

interaction of the incident photons with the atoms of the cell. The electric field
created by the cell junction causes the photon-generated-electron-hole pairs to
separate, with the electrons drifting into the n-region of the cell and the holes drifting
into the p-region.
(a) PV connected directly to load (b) Controller and battery storage

(b) System with battery storage and (d) Grid-connected system

back up generator
Figure 4.4. Examples of PV Systems

2.12.2. The PV Module

In order to obtain adequate output voltage, PV cells are connected in series to
form a PV module. Since PV systems are commonly operated at multiples of 12
volts, the modules are typically designed for optimal operation in these systems. The
design goal is to connect a sufficient number of cells in series to keep V m of the
module within a comfortable range of the battery/system voltage under conditions of
average irradiance. If this is done, the power output of the module can be maintained
close to maximum. This means that under full sun conditions, V m should be
approximately 16–18 V. Since Vm is normally about 80% of VOC, this suggests
designing the module to have a V OC of about 20 volts. With silicon single cell open-
circuit voltages typically in the range of 0.5– 0.6 volts, this suggests that a module
should consist of 33–36 cells connected in series. With each individual cell capable
of generating approximately 2–3watts, this means the module should be capable of
generating 70−100 watts.
When connecting a module into a system, one consideration is what happens
when the module is not illuminated. This can happen at night, but can also happen
during the day if any cell or portion of a cell is shaded by any means. Under nighttime
conditions, when none of the cells are generating appreciable photocurrent, it is
necessary to consider the module as a series connection of diodes that may be forward
biased by the system storage batteries, as shown in Figure 4.5.

(a) Module without blocking (b) Module with blocking

or bypass diodes and bypass diodes

Figure 4.5. Battery Discharge Path through PV module with and without Blocking
Another important observation relating to the series connection of PV cells
relates to shading of individual cells. If any one of the cells in a module should be
shaded, the performance of that cell will be degraded. Since the cells are in series,
this means that the cell may become forward biased if other sunshade modules are
connected in parallel, resulting in heating of the cell. This phenomenon can cause
premature cell failure. To protect the system against such failure, modules are
generally protected with bypass diodes, as shown in Figure 3.7. If PV current cannot
flow through one or more the PV cells in the module, it will flow through the bypass
diode instead.
When cells are mounted into modules, they are often covered with
antireflective coating, then with a special laminate to prevent degradation of the cell
contacts. The module housing is generally metal, which provides physical strength to
the module. When the PV cells are mounted in the module, they can be characterized
as having a nominal operating cell temperature (NOCT).The NOCT is the
temperature the cells will reach when operated at open circuit in an ambient
temperature of 20oC at AM 1.5 irradiance conditions, G = 800W/m 2 and a wind speed
less than 1 m/s.
Finally, a word about module efficiency, it is important to note that the
efficiency of a module will be determined by its weakest link. Since the cells are
series connected, it is important that cells in the module be matched as closely as
possible. If this is not the case, while some cells are operating at peak efficiency,
others may not be optimized. As a result, the power output from the module will be
less than the product of the number of cells and the maximum power of a single cell.

2.12.3. The PV Array

If higher voltages or currents than are available from a single module are required,
modules must be connected into arrays. Series connections result in higher voltages,
while parallel connections result in higher currents. When modules are connected in
series, it is desirable to have each module’s maximum power production occur at the
same current. When modules are connected in parallel, it is desirable to have each
module’s maximum power production occur at the same voltage. Thus, when
mounting and connecting modules, the installer should have this information available
for each module.
Figure 3.9 shows two common module configurations. In Figure 3.9a, modules are
connected in series-parallel. In the parallel connection of Figure 3.9a, fuses are
connected in series with each series string of modules, so that if any string should fail,
any excess current from the remaining series strings that might otherwise flow in the
reverse direction through the failed string will be limited by the fuse in the failed
string. Individual modules will normally have several internally connected bypass
diodes, as shown in Figure 3.7.In Figure 3.9 b, the modules are connected to produce
both positive and negative voltages with respect to ground. If three sets of modules
are connected in this manner, the combined output conveniently feeds the input of a 3-
phaseinverter system. A 15 kW 3-phase system sometimes uses three 5 kW inverters
and three arrays of modules connected to produce approximately 250 volts under
maximum power conditions.
(a) Series-Parallel with internal Bypass (b) Series-Parallel with Center
Grounded Diodes and Series Fuses to Provide + and - supplied
Figure 4.6. Example of PV Array

2.13. PV Generator Characteristics and Equivalent Circuits Models

To develop an accurate equivalent circuit for a PV cell, it is necessary to
understand the physical configuration of the elements of the cell as well as the
electrical characteristics of each element. Figure 3 is a cross-sectional view showing
major components of a typical PV cell.

Figure PV Cell Schematic

The junction of the dissimilar n (net negative charge) and p (net positive
charge) layers creates a diode effect. When illuminated the layers act simultaneously
as a constant current source in parallel with the diode. These basic PV circuit elements
are depicted in the simple (two parameter) ideal equivalent circuit of Figure 4. An
important feature of this circuit is that it is assumed there is a single, or lumped,
mechanism by which current is generated from absorbed light and a single mechanism
by which this current can be shunted across the load rather than flow through it.
The operation of solar cells and the design of power systems based on solar
cells must be based on the electrical characteristics, i.e., the voltage-current
relationship of the cells under various levels of radiation and at various cell

Figure.2. The equivalent circuit for a PV generator

Figure.2 is an equivalent circuit that can be used either for an individual cell or for a
module consisting of several modules. This circuit requires that five parameters be
known: the light current IL, the diode reverse saturation current IO, the series
resistance Rs, the shunt resistance Rsh and a curve fitting parameter a. At a fixed
temperature and solar radiation, the current-voltage characteristic of this model is
given by:

   V  IR s    V  IR s
I  I L  I D  Ish  I L  IO exp    1  R
  a  sh

The power is given by:

P  I.V
Current-voltage (I-V) characteristics of a typical PV module are shown in

Figure.3. The current axis (where V=0) is the short-circuit current Isc, and the

intersection with the voltage axis (where I=0) is the open-circuit voltage Voc.

The electrical model of a solar cell is composed of a diode, two resistances

and a current generator. The relationship between the voltage V (volts) and the current
density I (ampere) is given by:

   V  IR s    V  IR s
I  I L  I D  Ish  I L  IO exp    1  R
  a   sh

where: IL , IO and I are the photocurrent, the inverse saturation current and the
operating current, RS and RSh are series and parallel resistances respectively, which

depend on the incident solar radiation and the cell’s temperature, a  q is the diode

quality factor, k and q are Boltzmann’s constant and electronic charge respectively.
Townsend (1989), Eckstein (1990), Al-Ibrahimi (1996), propose the model with four
parameters assuming that the parallel resistance is infinite. So the equation (1) can be

   V  IR s   
I  I L  IO exp   1
  a 

The current and the voltage parameters of the PV generator are: Ipv = I and Vpv =
ns .Ns .V, where ns, Ns are the number of series cells in panel and series panels in
generator (ns =36).
Now only the four parameters IL , IO , a and Rs need to be evaluated, a method
to calculate these parameters has been developed by Townsend (1989) and Eckstein
(1990), Duffie and Beckman (1991). Since there are four unknown parameters, four
conditions of the current I and the voltage V are needed. Generally, available
manufacturer’s information are set at three points at the reference conditions, G =
1000W/ m2 and T= 25°C , the voltage at open circuit Voc,ref , the current at short circuit
Isc, ref and the maximum power point Vmp,ref and Imp,ref .
The 4th condition comes from the knowledge of the temperature coefficient μIsc
at short circuit and μVoc at open circuit. ε is the band gap energy (1.12 eV).
Equations (3) to (6) are used to calculate these parameters of the photovoltaic
cells in a standard condition based on the experimental data.
 I 
a ref  ln 1  mp,ref   Vmp,ref  Voc,ref
 I L,ref 
R S,ref 
I mp,ref

μ Voc  Tc,ref  Voc,ref  ε  n s

Tc,ref  μ Isc
I Lref

From equation (2) at reference condition and short circuit point, the diode
current I0 is very small (in order to 10-5 at 10-6 A), so the exponential term is
Isc, ref =IL, re
I L,ref
I O,ref 
 V  Rs  I 
exp  1
 a 

The indices 'oc', 'sc', 'mp' and 'ref' refer to the open circuit, the short circuit, the
maximum power and the reference condition respectively. The cell’s parameters
change with the solar radiation G (W/ m 2) and ambient temperature T (K) and can be
estimated by the following equation. For a given radiation and temperature, the cell's
parameters are then calculated from:

T  Ta 
 Tnoct  Ta  1  ηc 
G Tnoct  τα 

IL 
 I L,ref  μ I,sc  Tc  Tc,re f 
G T, ref
 T    T 
IO   c  exp ε  n s 1  c,ref 
 
 Tc,ref   a ref  Tc 


IL 
 I L,ref  μ I,sc  Tc  Tc,ref  
G T, ref

Where, Ta = ambient temperature, (Kelvin)

ηc = cell efficiency,
Tnoct = nominal operating cell temperature and
τα = transmittance absorbance product
k = Boltzmann's constant (1.384×10-23), ( Coulomb)
q = the electronic charge (1.602×10-19), (J/K)
These four parameters, for ambient conditions, are found from the equations
(7) to (11). By injecting these parameters in the equation (2), we obtain I-V
The temperature dependence of the maximum power point efficiency of a
module is an important parameter in estimating system performance. The maximum
power point efficiency of a module is given by:
I mp Vmp
η mp 

The temperature dependence of this efficiency can be expressed in terms of a

maximum power point efficiency temperature coefficient μ P, mp as
η mp  η mp,ref  μ P, mp  Tc  Tref 

The other terms are as defined above for Eqn. 2.3. For the ideal cell, the two
unknown parameters are IL and IO. The functional relationships for IL (Eqn. 2.2) and IO
(Eqn. 2.4) with respect to changes in irradiance and cell temperature apply to all
subsequent equivalent circuits, except for the MIT model. Additional simplifying
assumptions are used in the MIT model as well as different algebraic groupings of the
various parameters and constant terms. Consequently, different relationships are
employed to track variations in the I-V characteristic with changes in irradiance and
temperature. The actual equations used in the MIT model are detailed in Section
The diode current in creates the characteristic I-V curve shape of the PV cell.
Adding the light current translates the curve upwards. Figure 5 shows both the diode
I-V curve and the overall cell I-V curve for an ideal cell with assumed current
directions as shown in Figure 4, power is generated only in the first quadrant. The I-V
equation can be extended into the second or fourth quadrants but in those regions the
cell is absorbing energy.
Figure.5 Cell and Diode I-V Curve for Ideal PV Cell

2.14. Information required to use I-V Model

Table 6 is a complete list of the information needed to use the UP I-V curve
model for all irradiance levels and temperatures. Each item is ordinarily obtained
from a PV manufacturer's module brochure, except for the apparent series resistance,
which is often missing, and the semiconductor band gap energy, which is published in
many texts.
The last three items are used to calculate cell temperature from a known
ambient temperature and irradiance. The procedure for doing so is explained in detail
in Section 2.6.
Table. Information Required to Use I-V Model
Symbol Units Name From mfg?
Gref W/m2 Plane of array irradiance, reference Yes
G W/m2 Plane of array irradiance No
Tc,ref K Cell temperature, reference Yes
Tc K Cell temperature No
Isc,ref A short circuit current, reference Yes
Voc,ref V Open circuit voltage, reference Yes
Imp,ref A Maximum power point current, reference Yes
Vmp,ref V Maximum power point voltage, reference Yes
NCS 1/system Number of cells in series within the system Yes
μ I,sc A/K Temperature coefficient of short circuit current Yes
μ V, oc V/K Temperature coefficient of open circuit voltage Yes
εG V Band gap energy-semiconductor material No
property, assumed constant over flat plate PV
operating temperature; published in many texts
Rs  Apparent (lumped) series resistance, if not Some
provided by manufacturer
Area m Net module area Yes
Ta,NOCT K Ambient temperature at Nominal Operating Yes
Cell Temperature (NOCT) test condition
Tc,NOCT K Cell temperature at NOCT condition Yes
GNOCT W/m2 Plane of array irradiance at NOCT condition Yes