You are on page 1of 97


Photovoltaic for Professionals

- Energy supplies – today and in the future
- The sun’s limitless energy
- Photovoltaic effect – conversion of solar energy into electricity

- Grid-tied photovoltaic systems – components and design

- Stand-alone photovoltaic systems – components and design

- Installation and commissioning
- Open discussion and questions, preparation of the klausur
1. Energy supplies – today and in the future

• Today’s energy supplies: a cul-de-sac

• The potential of renewable energy
• Good environmental and economic grounds for using solar energy
• Example applications
Energy routes

Energy supplies – today and in the future 1-1

World energy system

Energy supplies – today and in the future 1-2

Hidden costs of fossil fuels

Price on the bill

Additional, hidden costs

Costs of war
Environmental damage
Air pollution
Clean-up costs
Security costs

Energy supplies – today and in the future 1-3

Emissions caused by burning fossil fuels

Energy supplies – today and in the future 1-4

Costs of climate change worldwide

US dollars (thousands of millions)

Economic damage

Insured proportion

Trend - economic damage

Trend - insured proportion

Energy supplies – today and in the future 1-5

PV module area to supply current global energy needs

Energy supplies – today and in the future 1-6

The potential of renewable energy

The power of the sun

Annual global
Geothermal Biomass energy requirement

Solar energy

Hydro-electricity/ Wind energy

wave power

Energy supplies – today and in the future 1-7

Photovoltaics provide power for remote buildings

Energy supplies – today and in the future 1-8

Solar power generation in a Japanese housing estate

Energy supplies – today and in the future 1-9

Photovoltaics – free-standing arrays or integrated into

Energy supplies – today and in the future 1-10

Solar-thermal power station in California

Energy supplies – today and in the future 1-11

Solar-thermal system for heating domestic water

Energy supplies – today and in the future 1-12

Active and passive use of solar energy in buildings

Energy supplies – today and in the future 1-13

Heat pumps use the heat from the surroundings to warm

Energy supplies – today and in the future 1-14

Wood and wood-pellet heating – use a replenishable

Energy supplies – today and in the future 1-15

Future energy supplies – decentralized and autonomous

Energy supplies – today and in the future 1-16

Global PV market growth


Energy supplies – today and in the future 1-17

Main national markets for grid-tied PV

New installations (MW p)

Japan Germany USA
Total installed capacity Total installed capacity Total installed capacity
1100 MW (2004) 760 MW (2004) 270 MW (2003)

Energy supplies – today and in the future 1-18

2. The sun’s limitless energy

• The sun as a source of radiation

• Radiation levels
• Solar yield from photovoltaic systems
The sun as a source of energy

Temperature Equivalent to 5.777 K

Solar Constant
(Maximum Irradiation Outside Atmosphere)
1.367 W/m2

The sun’s limitless energy 2-1

Sun-Earth geometry

21 September 21 June

21 December 21 March

The sun’s limitless energy 2-2

Components of solar radiation

Diffusion by Air Molecules,

Diffusion From Aerosols

Direct Diffuse Irradiance


Irradiance Due
to Albedo

The sun’s limitless energy 2-3

Annual and daily path of the sun (Northern hemisphere)

21 June

21 September
21 March

21 December

04:00 a.m.
06:20 a.m.
08:33 a.m.

The sun’s limitless energy 2-4

Irradiation dependence on weather

Cloudy Sky Clear Sky, Sun

Mainly Diffuse Radiation Mainly Direct Radiation

Irradiation W/m2

The sun’s limitless energy 2-5

Global annual solar radiation in kWh/m²

non - study area

The sun’s limitless energy 2-6

Average daily solar radiation per month

Annual June

Southerly tilted flat plate at latitude

The sun’s limitless energy 2-7

% Yield of a PV system over a year

Month Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sept. Oct. Nov. Dec. Jan. Feb.
Propor- 7.9% 11.3% 13.4% 12.4% 13.6% 12.2% 9.2% 7.4% 3.2% 1.9% 2.9% 4.5%
tion of
Table: Output of PV array in Central Europe in monthly percentages of total output. Snow on the array for a few days in January does not
make much difference to the yearly yield

The sun’s limitless energy 2-8

Dependence of yield on direction and inclination
(Northern hemisphere)

Annual percentage
solar insolation (%)

West East

Angle of

Example South
Example: 30° / 45° South-west = 95 %

The sun’s limitless energy 2-9

PV arrays with differing inclinations

The sun’s limitless energy 2-10

3. Photovoltaic effect – conversion of solar energy into

• Structure of silicon
• Functioning of a crystalline solar cell
• Different cell types and their characteristics
• Solar modules and their characteristics
Conduction in n- and p- doped silicon

p-type semiconductor n-type semiconductor



Photovoltaic effect 3-1

Transition region at the p-n interface

p-Region Transition Region n-Region


Free Holes Free Electrons

Photovoltaic effect 3-2

Operation of silicon solar cells

n-type silicon

Positive electrode

p-type silicon

Photovoltaic effect 3-3

Characteristic curve of a crystalline solar cell

Short circuit current

Cell power output (W)

Cell current (A)

Open circuit

Cell voltage (V)

Photovoltaic effect 3-4

Assembly of a copper-indium-diselenide (CIS) solar cell

1 ZnO, 2 CdS, 3 CIS, 4 Metal back contact, 5 Glass face plate

Photovoltaic effect 3-5

Triple junction solar cells – each layer reacts to a
particular spectral range

Long Wavelength Light

Middle Wavelength Light
Short Wavelength Light

1 TCO, 2 Blue absorbent Layer, 3 Green absorbent Layer, 4 Red absorbent Layer, 5 Reflective
Layer, 6 Substrate

Photovoltaic effect 3-6

Efficiency of various solar cells
Current stage of
Type of cell Construction Cell Efficiency * Module Efficiency

Monocrystalline silicon Uniform crystalline 24,7 % 13 – 17 % Industrial production

structure – single crystal

Polycrystalline (multi- Multi-crystalline structure – 19,8 % 11 – 15 % Industrial production

crystalline) silicon different crystals visible

Hybrid HIT solar cell Combination of crystalline and 20,1 % 15 – 17,5 % Industrial production
thin-film cells

Amorphous silicon Atoms irregularly arranged. 13 % 5 – 8 %*** Industrial production

Thin film technology
Gallium-arsenide Crystalline cells 25 % ** Produced exclusively for
special applications (e.g.
space craft)
Gallium-arsenide, gallium- Tandem (multijunction) 25 – 31 % ** Research and
antimony & others cells, different layers development stage
sensitive to different light

Copper-indium-diselenide Thin film, various 18 % 10 – 12 % Industrial production

deposition methods

Cadmium-telluride & others Thin film technology 17 % 9 – 10 % Ready to go into

Organic solar cells Electrochemical principle 5–8% ** Research and
based development stage – not
commercially available
* Cell efficiency is based on laboratory samples, and is invariably higher than module efficiency. From the practical point of view of evaluating systems,
the module efficiency should be used.
** Not available in module form.
*** in stabilized form.

Photovoltaic effect 3-7

Surface area requirements according to cell type

Cell material Module efficiency Surface area need for 1 kWp

Monocrystalline silicon

Polycrystalline silicon (EFG)

Polycrystalline silicon

Thin film

Amorphous silicon

Photovoltaic effect 3-8

Construction of a glass-glass module

1 Glass on front and rear sides, 2 Encapsulation in ethyl-vinyl-acetate (EVA), 3 Crystalline solar cell

Photovoltaic effect 3-9

Construction of a module in an aluminium frame

1 Aluminium frame, 2 Seal, 3 Glass, 4 Encapsulating EVA, 5 Crystalline cell, 6 Tedlar sheet

Photovoltaic effect 3-10

Monocrystalline module

Photovoltaic effect 3-11

Polycrystalline module

Photovoltaic effect 3-12

Flexible Uni-Solar multi-junction amorphous module roll

Photovoltaic effect 3-13

Effect of temperature on the operation of crystalline solar
Module current (A)

UMPP voltage range

Module voltage (V)

Photovoltaic effect 3-14

Effect of irradiation on the operation of crystalline solar
Module current (A)

UMPP voltage range

Module voltage (V)

Photovoltaic effect 3-15

Datasheet specifications of a module

Photovoltaic effect 3-16

Defects arising from quality assurance problems

Photovoltaic effect 3-17

4. Grid-tied photovoltaic systems – components and

• Principles of grid-tied photovoltaic systems

• Inverters
• PV combiner boxes
• Lightning protection
• Grid connection
• Steps in system sizing
• Shade
Principles of a grid-tied PV system

1 PV array, 2 PV array combiner/junction box, 3 Grid-tied inverter,

4 Import/export meter, 5 Connection to grid, 6 Loads.
Other configurations are possible

Grid-tied photovoltaic systems 4-1

Connection of PV modules in series



Grid-tied photovoltaic systems 4-2

Connection of PV modules in parallel



Grid-tied photovoltaic systems 4-3

Connection of PV modules in series-parallel


Grid-tied photovoltaic systems 4-4

Grid-tied PV systems using a central inverter or multiple

1 PV array, 1a/b Part PV arrays, 2 PV Combiner Box, 3 Inverter

Grid-tied photovoltaic systems 4-5

Use of central inverter in higher-voltage systems

1 PV array, 2 PV Combiner Box, 3 DC-Isolator, 4 Inverter, 5 Grid

Grid-tied photovoltaic systems 4-6

Use of central inverter in lower-voltage systems

1 PV array, 2 DC-Isolator, 3 Inverter, 4 Grid

Grid-tied photovoltaic systems 4-7

String inverters

1 PV array, 2 DC-Isolator, 3 Inverter, 4 Grid

Grid-tied photovoltaic systems 4-8

Use of inverters for invidual modules

1 PV array, 2 Inverter, 3 Grid

Grid-tied photovoltaic systems 4-9

Grid-side connection of multiple inverters

1 PV array, 2 DC plug-socket connectors, 3 PV combiner box, 4 Inverter

Grid-tied photovoltaic systems 4-10

The efficiency of an inverter

Grid-tied photovoltaic systems 4-11

PV combiner box

Grid-tied photovoltaic systems 4-12

Earthing PV systems in context of lightning protection

Grid-tied photovoltaic systems 4-13

Surge protection for a grid-tied PV system

PV array PV array Main DC isolator

combiner/junction box

Main DC
cables Inverters Hot/live


Surge protection

Grid-tied photovoltaic systems 4-14

Surge protection – use of proper cable bundling

Grid-tied photovoltaic systems 4-15

Lightning and surge damage to PV systems

Grid-tied photovoltaic systems 4-16

System components which always carry a voltage in

DC-Isolator AC-
(all poles) Isolator

Inverter Grid

Grid-tied photovoltaic systems 4-17

Shade hinders the generation of solar power

Grid-tied photovoltaic systems 4-18

The direction of shadow changes over the day

Grid-tied photovoltaic systems 4-19

Shade prediction using a solar-path indicator

Grid-tied photovoltaic systems 4-20

Shade prediction using solar-path diagrams (London)

Grid-tied photovoltaic systems 4-21

Arrangement of modules on roofs to avoid shade

Grid-tied photovoltaic systems 4-22

Avoiding self-shading of modules mounted free-standing
or on flat roofs

4 - 6 x height

Grid-tied photovoltaic systems 4-23

Functioning of bypass diodes

Bypass diode Bypass diode

cell cell cell cell cell

Grid-tied photovoltaic systems 4-24

Reducing the effect of non-avoidable shade by suitable
module layout

Grid-tied photovoltaic systems 4-25

Planning and sizing of grid-tied PV systems:

1. Sizing the system

• Available budget
• Determine roof size, inclination and orientation, and the position of any roof
• Check the extent of shade on the roof or location where the PV array is to
be mounted. If necessary, relocate arials and lightning rods

Grid-tied photovoltaic systems 4-26

Planning and sizing of grid-tied PV systems:

2. Choose the solar module

• Decide on module type (monocrystalline, polycrystalline or thin-film module)
• Determine number of modules: desired system size/roof area
• Establish module voltage at the normal operating temperature range
(-10°C bis 70°C)

Grid-tied photovoltaic systems 4-27

Planning and sizing of grid-tied PV systems:

3. Select the inverter

• Choice of inverter must match array peak output power, module voltage
and the feed-in current
• Take account of the manufacturer's warranty, guarantee and service
• Decide on inverter arrangement, with module isolators, corresponding to
the inverter MPP range

Grid-tied photovoltaic systems 4-28

5. Stand-alone PV systems – components and design

• Island systems – application areas for stand-alone PV systems

• Principles of stand-alone PV systems
• Specific components and their characteristics
• Steps in sizing
Solar-based power supplies for small equipment

Stand-alone PV systems 5-1

Stand-alone PV systems bring communication and light to
remote locations

Stand-alone PV systems 5-2

Mobile, thanks to solar power

Stand-alone PV systems 5-3

Principles of a stand-alone PV system

PV array


Charge regulator


Stand-alone PV systems 5-4

Range of different system configurations

Stand-alone PV systems 5-5

Inverters for stand-alone systems and charge contollers

Stand-alone PV systems 5-6

Battery characteristics for directly-connected PV Systems

Discharge Current

Charging Current

Current in A


Voltage in V

PV array characteristic Battery characteristic Resistance characteristic

of load

Stand-alone PV systems 5-7

Range of batteries for stand-alone PV systems

Stand-alone PV systems 5-8

Voltage characteristic of lead-acid batteries when charged
and discharged at constant current
Charging Time in h


Upper charge voltage

Cell Voltage in V

Gassing voltage

Quiescent Voltage

Lower discharge voltage


Discharge Time in h
Discharge at:

Stand-alone PV systems 5-9

Temperature dependance of fully-charged voltage
charged voltage in V

Temperature in °C

Stand-alone PV systems 5-10

Relationship between discharge time and capacity
(flat plate lead-acid battery)
Useable capacity

Discharge time

Stand-alone PV systems 5-11

Life expectancy of lead-acid batteries

Depth of discharge (DOD) per cycle

End of battery life

Number of cycles
Modified SLI Gel cells, maintenance free

Flooded deep cycle Maintenance-free deep


Stand-alone PV systems 5-12

Properties of batteries for PV stand-alone systems

Usual type description Modified SLI Gel cells, Maintenance-free Flooded deep cycle
maintenance-free deep cycle
Construction Thicker plates than SLI Maintenance-free, Gel electrolyte, tubular Liquid electrolyte,
(automotive) sealed plates tubular plates,
transparent containers
Properties Moderate to low water No maintenance Low maintenance, can Low maintenance,
loss, low self-discharge withstand deep robust construction,
rate discharge charge well with low
currents, can withstand
deep discharge
Unit voltages 12 V 12 V 2V–6V 2V–6V
Capacity range in Ah 60 – 260 Ah 10 – 130 Ah 200 – 12,000 Ah 20 – 2,000 Ah
Self-discharge rate – 2–4% 3–4% <3% 2–4%
% DOD – cycle life 20 % – 1000 30 % – 800 30 % – 3000 30 % – 4500
(approximate) 40 % – 500 50 % – 300 80 % > 1000 80 % > 1200
(can be less)
Maintenance periods 3 months approx. None Monitoring & yearly 3 month approx.

Stand-alone PV systems 5-13

Battery area – dry, cool and well-ventilated

Stand-alone PV systems 5-14

Battery configurations for 12 V and 24 V systems

Stand-alone PV systems 5-15

Determining the system cable lengths

PV array
500 W p

50 W

Socket 120 W

Stand-alone PV systems 5-16

Recommended conductor sizes for 12 V systems
Power carried in W

Total conductor length : Supply and return conductors in m

Stand-alone PV systems 5-17