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Desalination 209 (2007) 122–128

Comparative study of different PV modules configuration reliability
W.M. Rohoumaa*, I.M. Molokhiab, A.H. Esurib
b a Center for Solar Energy Studies, Tripoli, Libya EE. Department, Alfateh University, Tripoli, Libya email: wesam@cseslibya.org

Abstract One of the most promising source of renewable energy is the direct conversion of solar energy owing to the present state of achieved technology in manufacturing PV modules, their comprehensive cost and the high depletion in non-renewable energy sources. The reliability of stand alone PV systems becomes one of the major trends in the present design of such systems. The system configuration plays an important factor determining the overall system reliability. This paper emphasizes the existing manufactured modules and illustrates the reliability analysis of different system configurations. AC bus level connection using module integrated inverters vs. DC bus level connection, cabling losses shading effects are also examined. A case study is selected to calculate and compare the reliability of different system configuration using the analytical approach. Keywords: PV system; Reliability; Inverter topology; Module integrated inverter

1. Introduction PV electricity is a viable and cost-effective option in many remote site applications where the cost of grid extension or maintenance of conventional power supply systems would be prohibitive [1]. A stand alone photovoltaic systems consist of photovoltaic modules, charge controllers, batteries and inverters, the interconnection and
*Corresponding author.

configuration of these component has an important impact on the overall system reliability and performance. There are many failures occurred during the PV systems operating life, the majority of system failures may be attributed to inverter failures [2]. In this paper, a study has been made for quantifying the effects of inverter configuration on PV system performance and investigate the several configurations to demonstrate system performance and reliability. The failure rates (λ), of the photovoltaic system components are

The Ninth Arab International Conference on Solar Energy (AICSE-9), Kingdom of Bahrain
0011-9164/06/$– See front matter © 2006 Published by Elsevier B.V. doi:10.1016/j.desal.2007.04.020

with failure rate li is Ri = e − λ i × t and the system reliability for central inverter configuration is Rsys = ⎡1 − 1 − e − n × λ m × t m ⎤ × e (λ c + λ B + λ i ) × t ⎢ ⎥ ⎣ ⎦ ( ) (1) 2. as shown in Fig. system average useful life and system failure rate. 1. 2. and due to the large size. 2. large number of such classical configuration already in operation allover the world. a modular. . 1. flexible/ extensible design is harder to realize with such configuration. charge controller. Once the system reliability function has been determined.2.1. Central inverter systems requires DC wiring which increases the cost and decreases safety.W. and the exponential distribution is employed when a constant failure rates adequately describe the behavior of the system component. battery bank and DC to AC Inverter. expressed in terms of the reliabilities of its components. and the reliability becomes R(t ) = e − λ t and the MTTF (mean time to failure) is the average useful life = 1/λ. Rohouma et al. String inverter system configuration In this configuration instead of one string system (central inverter) it is more practical to divide the system into k parallel subsystems. And the system reliability could be quantified by multiplying the reliability of each component in the system: Rsys = Rarray × RBattery × Rcharger × Rinverter The reliability of PV module Rm with failure rate lm is Rm = e − λ m × t The reliability of PV array Rarray with n series and m parallel modules is Rarray = 1 − (1 − e − n × λ × t) m . Reliability Reliability analysis is the determination of a mathematical expression that describes the reliability function of the system. Central inverter system. The reliability of batteries RB. other calculations can then be performed to obtain system probability density function (pdf).M. The following system configurations are considered in the reliability analysis: a) Central inverter system. / Desalination 209 (2007) 122–128 123 assumed to be constant. Central inverter system configuration The central inverter configuration system consists of PV modules arranged in series and parallel to get the desired current and voltage. c) Module integrated inverter system. b) String inverter system. and Fig. with failure rate lc is Rc = e − λ c × t The reliability of inverters Ri. with failure rate lB is RB = e − λ B × t The reliability of charge controllers Rc.

2. Introduction Fig. For AC module the reliability is interconnect theses subsystem on AC side.M. The AC modules and the battery set should be both up for the system to work. String inverter. 3). School electrification in Beer Almeerhan village 3.3. located in . 3. So the reliability of the system is Rsys = Rm × RB Fig. Rohouma et al. the reliability is Rsys = 1 − 1 − Rsub-sys ( ) k where N = number of parallel modules. / Desalination 209 (2007) 122–128 is connected to its module using short run DC cable. The sub-string reliability is Rsub-sys = ⎡1 − 1 − e − n × λ m × t m ⎤ × e − (λ c + λ B + λ i) × t ⎢ ⎥ ⎣ ⎦ Rm = 1 − 1 − e − (λ m + λ i) × t ( ) N And for the battery with the bidirectional inverter is ( ) RB = 1 − 1 − e − (λ B + λ i) × t ( ) M and for the overall system. lat. The AC module provide power to the load and charge the battery in day time. M = number of parallel batteries and the overall system reliability is N Rsys = ⎡1 − 1 − e − (λ m + λ i) × t ⎤ ⎥ ⎢ ⎦ ⎣ M × ⎡1 − 1 − e − (λ B+ λ i) × t ⎤ ⎢ ⎥ ⎦ ⎣ ⎛ ⎡ Rsys = 1 − ⎜1 − ⎢⎛1 − 1 − e − n × λ m × t ⎝ ⎣⎝ ( ) m ) (2) ( ) ⎞ × e − (λ c + λ B + λ i ) × t ⎤⎟ ⎥ ⎦⎠ k ( ) (3) 2. and the battery will supply the load at night time via bidirectional inverter (Fig.1.: 12° 21’ 16. So from reliability point of view the AC module and the battery set are in series.1 N. the AC module produce alternating voltage 220 V at the line frequency. by differentiating the reliability function pdf = f (t ) = − d R(t ) dt (4) and the average useful life MTTF of the system MTTF = ∫ R(t ) ⋅ dt 0 ∞ (5) 3. 2. long.124 W. combined with a module mounted inverter. Module integrated inverter.: 31° 05’ 17. then the module is connected to the AC bus using AC cable. Module integrated or AC module An AC solar module is in fact a standard solar module. The inverter Once the equation of the reliability obtained the pdf of the system could be obtained. as shown in Fig. Beer Almeerhan is a small rural village.5 E.

School exciting system configuration. There are some buildings in the village which is powered by photovoltaic system. Fig.92e −0. .325e −0.125 Failure/year [6] lB = 0. System configuration: (Central inverter system) System voltage = 48 V Battery type STG 1560 Solar power = 3600 Wp No.M. 6.1 Failure/year [5] 3.325 × t × 1 − e −0.16t ( ) 11 ) 12 Using the above equations it is possible to calculate the system reliability. of series modules = 4 No. 4. a school. 5. tents. of parallel 1 Battery voltage 2 V Capacity at 100 hr rate 1560 Ah/cell Battery bank capacity 1560 Ah 48V System load 1220 W The failure rate l is given by λ = 1/ MTBF lm = 0. (1) Rsys = e − 0. Central Inverter system pdf. And different interconnection strategies are compared to get better system performance. 4.16t ( − 0. Rohouma et al. / Desalination 209 (2007) 122–128 125 Fig. of series 24 Module type SP75 Module power = 75 W No.16 × t Using Eq.325t 1 − e −0. of modules = 48 No. etc In this case the reliability analysis of the photovoltaic system installed in the school is considered. Central inverter reliability function.485t 1 − e −0. such as a public building.2.W. the south GURIAN city. pdf and MTTF as shown below: The MTTF = MTTR (mean time to repair) + MTBF (mean time between failure) The MTTR is assumed to be very small compared with MTTF so the MTTF = MTBF Fig.04 Failure/year [6] lC = 0. (4) the system pdf is ( ) 12 f (t ) = system pdf = 0. 325e −325t +1.1 Failure/year [6] li = 0.325 × t − e −0. of parallel modules = 12 Total no. The current system configuration is shown in Fig. Central inverter configuration The system reliability of the central inverter (existing system) is calculated using Eq.

2× t 8 ⎤ ⎥ ⎢ ⎥ ⎦ ⎣ ⎦ ( ) Using Eq. (2) The reliability of the PV system using 4 string systems where K = 4.325t ⎛1 − 1 − e −0. Fig.5 years (Figs. 3.3. (3). Reliability of the system using module integrated inverter.126 W.16 × t ⎟ × e −0. 5 and 6). with bidirectional inverter. (4) the system pdf f(t) 3 7 ⎛ 48 ⎞ ⎤ ⎡ f (t ) = ⎢1.2t 1 − e −0. (5) The MTTF of the System = 5. 8.2t ⎟ ⎥ ⎝ ⎠⎦ ⎣ ⎡ ⎤ = 4 × ⎢1 − e −0. Rohouma et al. 200 Ah each.14 × t ⎢ ⎣ ( ) 48 ⎤ × ⎡1 − 1 − e −0. MTTF of the system using Eq.16t ⎤ ⎥ ⎦ 3 ( )) ( ) ( ) ( ) 3 ( ) ( ) ( ) The system MTTF from Eq. 7. (5) = 13.14t ⎜1 − 1 − e −0.M. String inverter configuration Using Eq.6e −0.14t ⎟ ⎥ ⎝ ⎠⎦ ⎣ 47 ⎛ 8⎞ ⎤ ⎡ + ⎢6.16t ⎥ ⎝ ⎣ ⎦ × ⎡0. 9. String inverter pdf. (5) = 3. 7 and 8).16 × t ⎥⎟ ⎝ ⎣ ⎦⎠ ( ) 4 Rsys = ⎡1 − 1 − e −0. using 48 module integrated inverter. 3.485t 1 − e −0.325e −0.3 years (Figs.48e −0.14t 1 − e −0.325e −0. Fig. Module integrated inverter system configuration Using Eq. 9 and 10).325t × 1 − e −0.16t ⎢ ⎣ 2 + 0. .2t × ⎜1 − 1 − e −0.4.325 × t × 1 − e −0.0 years (Figs. M = 3 are shown: ⎛ ⎡⎛ 3⎞ ⎤⎞ Rsys = 1 − ⎜1 − ⎢⎜1 − 1 − e −0. Fig. N = 4. and 8 batery 12 V. (4) the system pdf is From Eq. Pdf of module integrated inverter system. String inverter reliability function. / Desalination 209 (2007) 122–128 Fig.325t − 0. so the system reliability are ( ) 4 3 ⎤⎞ ⎛ ⎡ = 1 − ⎜1 − ⎢e −0.325 × t ⎥⎟ ⎠ ⎝ ⎣⎝ ⎦⎠ From Eq.72e −0.325 × t − e −0. 10.

These DC cables tend to be quite long and the resulting losses relatively high. Cabling losses In a typical central-inverter PV system. 2) The average useful life of the module integrated inverter is very long comparing with the other configurations. Conclusion From the results presented in this paper the following concluding remarks can be made: 1) A module integrated inverter system potentially has much higher reliability than the other configurations.inverter systems. Shading and mismatch Partial shading of a PV array can significantly reduce its output. multiple inverters provide in-built redundancy failure of one PV module or inverter in a system with many inverters will have only an incremental effect on overall system performance. there is no series interconnection between PV modules. buildings. Central-inverter systems are more susceptible to power loss from shading and mismatch than module. new panels can be added easily at any time. Losses from shading of a single PV module are therefore limited to that module. Australian design guidelines recommend that peak DC cabling losses be kept below a maximum of 5% [4]. modules are connected to one another and to a centrally-located inverter using DC cables. Rohouma et al. 11 shows the comparison between the different module configurations. Comparison between the different module configuration. Total peak cabling losses (DC and AC) for module-inverter systems are therefore likely to be considerably less than for central-inverter systems. 6. 5. roof structures. 5) Module integrated inverter system also provides enhanced modularity. 3) Cable losses are reduced to the minimum using module integrated inverter. each module connects to a nearby inverter via a short run of DC cable. leaves and bird droppings can partially shade a PV array and result in a substantial reduction in system performance. 4) In module integrated system the impact of shading using module integrated inverter is lower. / Desalination 209 (2007) 122–128 127 Fig. In a module-inverter system.M. and the inverters are connected to AC buss and as results the DC cabling losses are reduced to around 0. any un shaded modules nearby are unaffected. Hence losses from shading in a module-inverter system are usually much less than for an equivalent centralinverter system and tend to be more proportional to the degree of shading [4]. since heavily shaded cells will limit the output of other cells with which they are connected in series trees. The exact level of DC cabling loss will vary considerably between different system configurations. and it is obvious that the module integrated inverter has much more reliability that the other system configurations. because in module integrated system the inverters are mounted on the back of each individual panel. Module-inverter systems are subject to additional AC cabling losses compared to central-inverter systems. Fig. 11.W. television aerials. . In a typical module-inverter system.1%. 4. and it is around 2% [4].

Photovoltaics in building. Miroslav Begovic and Ajeet Rohatgi.co. Jerusalem (1999).128 W.sollatek. / Desalination 209 (2007) 122–128 development of the first AC BIPV Installation in Canada.M. Neworleaus-USA. UK. 35–37 William road. Ltd. London NW1 3ER. Ljubisav Stamenic. Economic Comparison of Central Versus Module Inverters in Residential Rooftop Photovoltaic Systems.uk http://www. Aleksandar Pregelj. Technology Center. D. Helensburgh NSW 2508. http://www. Impact Of Inverter Configuration On PV System Reliability And Energy Production. 31 The Ridge.co. 29th IEEE PVSC. Roche. a design handbook/james & james Publ.uk References [1] Friedrich sick and Thomas Erge. Rohouma et al. Research and [4] [2] [3] [5] [6] .antares. ISES Solar World Congress. Australia. Greenwatt Consulting. British Colombia Institute of Technology. 17–24–2002.M.