3456 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON INDUSTRIAL ELECTRONICS, VOL. 57, NO.

10, OCTOBER 2010
A Global Maximum Power Point Tracking Scheme
Employing DIRECT Search Algorithm for
Photovoltaic Systems
Tat Luat Nguyen and Kay-Soon Low, Senior Member, IEEE
Abstract—This paper presents a maximum power point track-
ing approach for a photovoltaic system using the dividing rectan-
gles algorithm. The new approach overcomes some weaknesses of
the existing methods such as the perturb and observe method as
it is capable of searching for global maximum. This is particularly
important for a systemthat is partially shaded. To validate the per-
formance of the proposed scheme, experimental studies have been
conducted. The results have shown that the proposed approach is
robust and possesses a fast tracking speed.
Index Terms—Global peak (GP), maximum power point track-
ing (MPPT), partially shaded, photovoltaic (PV) systems, solar
energy.
I. INTRODUCTION
P
HOTOVOLTAIC (PV) energy generation has become in-
creasingly important as a renewable source due to its
environmentally friendly nature and a practically unlimited
source. In some applications, particularly in space, PV energy
is also the primary power source available.
Until today, PV modules still have relatively low conversion
efficiency. Consequently, an approach to track its optimum
operating point (OP) is always an essential issue in a PV
system. Over the past decades, many maximum power point
tracking (MPPT) techniques have been developed and imple-
mented. They vary in complexity, convergent speed, cost, and
range of effectiveness [1], [2] or hardware implementation
[3]–[6]. Among those techniques, the “perturb and observe”
(P&O) scheme [7]–[9] and the incremental conductance (INC)
scheme [10], [11] are the most common due to their ease of
implementation. The main drawback of these methods is that
they can only track a single maximum, which is absent when
the solar panels are partially shaded. The reason is that these
methods are based on the “hill-climbing” principle of moving
the next OP in the direction in which power increases. If the
P–V (or P–I) characteristic is not unimodal, these methods
could only successfully reach a local maximum.
In recent years, a few novel MPPT methods have been dis-
cussed to overcome this limitation [12]–[19]. Kobayashi et al.
[12] and Irisawa et al. [13] have proposed a two-stage method
to track the global peak (GP). In the first stage, the OP of the
Manuscript received December 31, 2008; revised April 20, 2009, August 6,
2009, and October 29, 2009; accepted November 30, 2009. Date of publication
January 19, 2010; date of current version September 10, 2010.
The authors are with the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineer-
ing, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore 639798 (e-mail: tatluat.
nguyen@seagate.com; k.s.low@ieee.org).
Digital Object Identifier 10.1109/TIE.2009.2039450
PV system moves into the vicinity of the real maximum power
point (MPP). Then, it converges to the real MPP in the second
stage. However, this method may not track the real MPP for
some nonuniform insolation conditions. Miyatake et al. [14]
employed a line search algorithm with improved Fibonacci
search to find the GP when the PV array is partially shaded.
This approach too cannot guarantee to find the GP under all
conditions [14]. In [15], a fractional open-circuit voltage (V
oc
)
method that periodically sweeps the PV array voltage from
open circuit to short circuit is proposed. It updates the fraction
that gives the relationship between the MPP voltage (V
MPP
)
and V
oc
to find the MPP. Consequently, this causes some
power losses. In [16], a voltage-based power compensation
method that deactivates shaded PV modules by forward biasing
corresponding bypass diodes according to the shaded level of
the PVmodule is proposed. This method is suitable for a system
that consists of multimodules in series and parallel. Moreover,
knowledge of the system is essential. In [17], an approach
for adaptive reconfiguration of solar PV arrays under shadow
conditions has been described. A switching matrix connects a
solar adaptive bank to a fixed part of the PV array according
to a model-based control algorithm. The method would require
a large number of switches and sensors if the number of rows
in the PV array is large. Gules et al. [18] proposed a parallel-
connected MPPT system in which the PV modules are con-
nected in parallel. Each module is treated as one unit that tracks
its own MPP. When a module is shaded, the performance will
not propagate to other modules. However, the method incurs
extra hardware and cost. Moreover, a good MPPT should also
need to be implemented in each branch to track the MPP when
a module is shaded. Patel and Agarwal [19] also proposed a
two-stage method to track the GP. A global stage is used to find
the region of local MPPs, while the local stage employs P&O
to track the local MPPs. Initially, the method finds the nearest
local MPP. It then searches on the local MPP’s left and later
on its right to find other local MPPs. The decision to search
in the same or reverse direction depends on the comparison of
local MPPs and other criteria, as described in [19]. The search
is terminated when the algorithm finds the highest local MPP.
Thus, the tracking speed is limited as almost all local MPPs
may be found and compared to find the GP.
In this paper, a new search algorithm that has the same ease
of implementation as the P&O and INC schemes is proposed.
The new approach shows a better performance and fast tracking
speed, particularly in the presence of multiple MPPs and sudden
0278-0046/$26.00 © 2010 IEEE
NGUYEN AND LOW: GLOBAL MPPT SCHEME EMPLOYING DIRECT SEARCH ALGORITHM FOR PHOTOVOLTAIC SYSTEMS 3457
high level changing of insolation. The proposed approach is de-
veloped based on the dividing rectangles (DIRECT ) algorithm
that was developed in [20] for searching the global extreme of
a Lipschitz function in an interval. In this paper, it is shown that
the function describing the power/voltage relationship of PV
cells is a Lipschitz function. Therefore, the DIRECT algorithm
can be employed in tracking global maximum power of a PV
system.
The organization of this paper is as follows. In
Section II, the fundamental characteristics of PV cells are
discussed. Section III introduces an overview of the DIRECT
algorithm. Section IV presents its implementation for PV
systems. Section V shows the experimental results and
evaluates the system performance on convergent speed as
well as its tracking efficiency. Finally, Section VI summarizes
the work.
II. FUNDAMENTAL CHARACTERISTICS OF PV CELL
A. PV Array Characteristics
In [24]–[26], different models have been proposed to char-
acterize PV cells. As only a moderate model is needed for
control purposes in this paper, a single-diode PV model is
used [25]. For a group of solar cells (i.e., a module) under the
same environmental conditions that consists of n
s
solar cells
connected in series and n
p
solar strings connected in parallel,
the current–voltage output characteristics can be described as
i =n
p
I
ph
−n
p
I
rs
_
exp
_
q
kTAn
s
_
v + i
n
S
n
P
R
S
__
−1
_

v + i
n
S
n
P
R
S
n
S
n
P
R
SH
(1)
where I
ph
is the photocurrent generated by a PV cell, I
rs
is
the reversed saturation current of a diode, A is the ideal factor
with a value from one to two, k is the Boltzmann’s constant,
q is the electron charge, R
s
and R
SH
are the series and shunt
resistances, respectively, and i and v are the solar cell current
and voltage, respectively.
When the PV array is under a partially shaded condition, the
PV cells under the same insolation condition can be regrouped
to form new modules [27], [28]. Then, these modules can be
considered to be connected in series and/or parallel to form a
new PV array according to the shading pattern. Assume that
the new configuration consists of N
p
branches in parallel and
a maximum of N
s
modules in series in a branch; the output
current i
a
and voltage v
a
can be described as
i
a
=
N
p

b=1
i
b
(2)
v
a
=
N
S

j=1
v
j
(3)
where i
b
is the current in the bth branch and v
j
is the voltage
across the jth module in a branch.
B. Lipschitz Characteristics of P–V Function
Multiplying (2) by (3) yields the power p
a
, and then per-
forming partial differentiation with respect to v
a
yields the
following:
∂p
a
∂v
a
= i
a
+ v
a
∂i
a
∂v
a
∀ v
a
∈ [a, b] (4)
where
∂i
a
∂v
a
=
N
p

b=1


N
S

j=1
∂v
j
∂i
b


−1
∀ v
a
∈ [a, b]. (5)
Consider the jth module in the bth branch; it can be verified that
∂v
j
∂i
b
= −
1 +
q
kTA
I
RS
R
S
e
K
_
v
bj
+i
bj
n
S_bj
n
P_bj
R
S
_
+
R
S
R
SH
qn
P_bj
kTAn
S_bj
I
RS
e
K
_
v
bj
+i
bj
n
S_bj
n
P_bj
R
S
_
+
n
P_bj
n
S_bj
R
SH
.
(6)
From (2)–(6), ∂P
a
/∂V
a
exists and is bounded by a maximum
value M. By the mean value theorem, for every v
1
, v
2
∈ [a, b],
there exists c ∈ [v
1
, v
2
] such that
|p(v
1
) −p(v
2
)|
|v
1
−v
2
|
=
∂p
∂v
a
¸
¸
¸
¸
c
= p

(c), c ∈ (v
1
, v
2
). (7)
As p

(c) is bounded by M, (7) becomes
|p(v
1
) −p(v
2
)| ≤ M|v
1
−v
2
| ∀ v
1
, v
2
∈ [a, b]. (8)
Equation (8) is known as the Lipschitz condition [20]. Since
the function p(v) satisfies the condition, it is known as a
Lipschitz function with a Lipschitz constant M and is also
uniformly continuous and bounded on [a, b] [23].
Assume that v
1
is a sampled point and that v is a variable.
The Lipschitz inequality (8) gives both the upper and lower
bounds on the values of the function p(v) at other points as [23]
p(v
1
) −M|v −v
1
| ≤ p(v) ≤ max
v∈[a,b]
p(v) ≤ p(v
1
) + M|v −v
1
|.
(9)
If v
1
is at the center of [a, b], it can be shown from (9) that
p(v) ≤ max
v∈[a,b]
p(v) ≤ p(v
1
) + M
b −a
2
. (10)
Thus, with just one sample, (9) and (10) give a bound on
how far the GP is deviated from the observed sample p(v
1
).
Both M and (b −a) might be large initially. However, by
taking further samples, we can effectively replace (b −a) by
the length of smaller subintervals successively. In this manner,
one can develop an efficient algorithmto find a solution within a
prespecified tolerance of an optimal solution in a finite number
of iterations [21], [22]. The DIRECT search algorithm is one of
them and particularly effective where the Lipchitz constant M
is unknown or difficult to be estimated [20].
3458 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON INDUSTRIAL ELECTRONICS, VOL. 57, NO. 10, OCTOBER 2010
Fig. 1. (a) Dividing strategy. (b) POIs.
III. OVERVIEW OF DIRECT ALGORITHM
In this section, two main ideas of the DIRECT algorithm,
namely, the area-dividing strategies and the potentially optimal
intervals (POIs), will be reviewed. Subsequently, its develop-
ment to track an MPP of PV arrays will be presented in the next
section.
A. Area-Dividing Strategies
Fig. 1(a) shows the area-dividing strategy of the DIRECT
algorithm when a sampling interval [a, b] has been specified.
Assume that the algorithm has already taken a sample V
1
at
the center of [a, b] in the previous step. This interval is then
divided into three parts, and samples V
2
and V
3
are taken at
the center points of the left and right intervals, respectively.
The sample V
1
simply becomes the center of the new middle
interval. The algorithm then evaluates three samples to decide
the next sampling interval. With this strategy, DIRECT only
requires two new samples in each dividing cycle for evaluation.
Once an interval is chosen to be explored further, it will be
further triply divided, and two more samples [V
32
and V
33
in
the case shown in Fig. 1(a)] will be created. This results in five
samples at the end of the second dividing cycle, as shown in
Fig. 1(a).
B. POI
When an interval is to be divided for further sampling, the
interval is referred to as potentially optimal. Let ε > 0 be a
positive constant and f
max
be the current best function value.
Interval J is said to be potentially optimal if there exists a rate
of change constant
¯
K > 0 such that [20]
f(x
j
) +
¯
K
(a
j
−b
j
)
2
≥f(x
i
) +
¯
K
(a
i
−b
i
)
2
∀ i (11)
f(c
j
) +
¯
K
(a
j
−b
j
)
2
≥f
max
+ ε|f
max
|. (12)
The inequality (11) expresses the decision only to choose in-
tervals that would promise the best improvement in the function
value. For intervals with the same length, it implies that only the
interval with the highest function value at its middle point is the
POI. The parameter ε in (12) ensures that the POIs would yield
better improvement than f
max
by at least an amount ε|f
max
|.
As reported in [20], the algorithm becomes more local in its
searching when the value of ε gets smaller. For the PV system
under investigation, a maximum percentage error of the mea-
sured power can be used as a guideline for the choice of ε. In
our design, the maximum errors of current and voltage sensors
are 1.5%. Thus, the maximum measurement error of power is
less than 3%. When the proposed algorithm performs global
search, ε is chosen as 0.03. When the algorithm is doing the
local search, ε is set to zero to allow the GP to be reached. The
definition of POI in the original algorithm is shown in Fig. 1(b),
which plots the function’s values at the center of the sampled
intervals versus the intervals’ length. Among all the intervals,
only those that satisfy (11) and (12) are considered potentially
optimal [20]. The original DIRECT algorithm divides all POIs
to search for the GP globally and locally at the same time. For
the proposed algorithm, the dividing strategy is different, as
described in Section IV-C and D.
IV. IMPLEMENTATION FOR PV SYSTEM
A. Identification of Sampling Interval for PV System
In the following, the interval that the duty cycle always falls
within is termed as the “absolute sampling interval.” Theoret-
ically, V
MMP
falls between 0 V and V
oc_max
. In the case that
a dc/dc converter is used to vary the OP of the PV system, the
duty cycle would be in the range of (0, 1). However, this range
[D
min_abs
, D
max_abs
], where D
min_abs
> 0 and D
max_abs
<
1, can be constrained much smaller in practice. Fig. 2 shows
a method to systematically estimate D
min_abs
and D
max_abs
with known boundary parameters: the maximum and minimum
of the short-circuit current I
sc_max
and I
sc_min
, of the open-
circuit voltage V
oc_max
and V
oc_min
, and of the equivalent
NGUYEN AND LOW: GLOBAL MPPT SCHEME EMPLOYING DIRECT SEARCH ALGORITHM FOR PHOTOVOLTAIC SYSTEMS 3459
Fig. 2. Absolute sampling interval estimation method.
resistive load R
load_max
and R
load_min
. From Fig. 2, the
maximum and minimum reflected equivalent load at the PV
array output can be estimated as
R
pv_min
=
¯
V
oc_min
I
sc_max
=
α ×V
oc_min
I
sc_max
(13)
R
pv_max
=
V
oc_max
¯
I
sc_min
=
V
oc_max
β ×I
sc_min
(14)
where α and β are the scaling factors for the estimated V
oc_min
and I
sc_max
, respectively. Their values are less than one and
determine the range of the estimated interval.
Depending on the dc–dc converter topology, the duty cycle
boundaries D
min_abs
and D
max_abs
can be estimated accord-
ingly. If the buck–boost topology is implemented, with the
introducing of the converter efficiency η
bb
as that in [29], the
relationship between the reflected equivalent load at the PV
array output R
pv
and R
load
[3] becomes
R
pv
= η
bb
_
1 −D
D
_
2
×R
load
. (15)
Rewriting (15), we have
D =

η
bb
R
load
_
R
pv
+

η
bb
R
load
. (16)
From (16)
D
min_abs
=
_
η
bb
R
load_min
_
R
pv_max
+
_
η
bb
R
load_min
(17)
D
max_abs
=
_
η
bb
R
load_max
_
R
pv_min
+
_
η
bb
R
load_max
. (18)
In some situations, the initial tracking, for example, there
may be insufficient information obtained from the present I–V
characteristic, and the absolute sampling interval is feasible
for tracking the GP successfully. However, much informa-
tion can be obtained from previous sampled points in most
cases, and V
oc
or I
sc
can be estimated. Thus, by replacing
V
oc_max
, V
oc_min
with V
oc
and I
sc_max
, I
sc_min
with I
sc
in
(13) and (14), the specific sampling interval (D
min
, D
max
) can
be estimated smaller than (D
min_abs
, D
max_abs
). The smaller
sampling interval will lead to an increase in convergent speed.
B. Partially Shaded Condition Identification
Under partially shaded condition, it is observed that the
I–V curves have multiple stairs while the P–V curves are
characterized by multiple peaks [27]. Assume that DIRECT
has successfully moved the OP to the MPP D
m1
in previous
steps, as shown in Fig. 3(a). When a partially shaded condition
happens, the OP will move from 1 to 2 due to the change of the
I–V curve. The movement results in a reduction of the tracked
power even though the duty cycle is not changed. To track a
new MPP, DIRECT initializes the sampling interval and takes
three new samples D
i
(i = 1, 2, 3) to identify whether the PV
arrays are under uniform or partially shaded conditions.
The analysis based on the observation of a single stair in
a multistair I–V curve can always be considered as part of
the I–V curve of a module under uniform condition, e.g.,
the gray area in Fig. 3(a). Thus, under a partially shaded
condition, I
D1
would be smaller than I
MPP
(I
MPP
≈ I
D3
) of
the I–V curve representing the first stair, and V
D2
would also be
larger than V
oc
(V
oc
> V
D1
) of the I–V curve representing the
middle stair. In other words, I
Di
and V
Di
(i = 1, 2, 3) are well
separated, which means that both (19) and (20) are satisfied
ΔI
D3,1
I
D3
=
I
D3
−I
D1
I
D3
≥ 0.1 (19)
ΔV
D1,2
V
D2
=
V
D2
−V
D1
V
D2
≥ 0.2. (20)
The criterion values “0.1” and “0.2” are chosen based on the
observation that I
MPP
and V
MPP
are about 90% and 80% of
I
sc
and V
oc
of a single I–V curve, respectively [12].
If the I–V curve has more than three stairs, any two consec-
utive stairs can always be considered as under one larger stair,
as shown in Fig. 4(b). Thus, (19) and (20) easily hold true in
those cases. Fig. 4(a) shows that (19) and (20) also hold true, in
general, for two-stair I–V curve cases.
In the case that only (19) or (20) is satisfied, DIRECT would
need to take further samples to identify the insolation condition.
Fig. 5(a) shows cases when (19) is not satisfied, which means
that I
D3
is close to I
D1
. Since V
D3
< V
D1
, P
D3
< P
D1
. Thus,
either sample at D
1
or D
2
is the maximum among the first
three samples. Assume that a sample at D
i
(i is one or two) is
maximum; according to the definition of POIs, DIRECT would
divide interval D
i
into three subintervals and take two new
samples D
i2
and D
i3
at the new middle points, as shown in
Fig. 5(a). Again, with information given by D
1
, D
i2
(or D
i3
),
and D
2
, the insolation condition can be identified properly.
Similar process is applied for cases when only (20) is not
satisfied.
In general, DIRECT has high chance to identify a partially
shaded condition if there is at least one of the first three
samples taken in a different stair from others. This condition
3460 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON INDUSTRIAL ELECTRONICS, VOL. 57, NO. 10, OCTOBER 2010
Fig. 3. (a) OP movement. (b) First three samples illustration.
Fig. 4. Partially shaded condition identification in (a) two-stair I–V curves and (b) more-than-three-stair I–V curves.
Fig. 5. I–V curve has two stairs.
always happens if the initial sampling interval is estimated large
enough. However, if the first three samples are taken in the
same stair, as shown in Fig. 5(b), DIRECT would identify the
condition as a uniform case and switch to the locally biased
strategy for faster tracking speed. Since the area under the stair
that the first three samples are taken in is always larger than
others if they present, DIRECT still can reach the GP.
C. Globally Biased Strategy of DIRECT Algorithm
When the PV arrays are under a partially shaded condition,
the globally biased form of the DIRECT algorithm that focuses
on exploring a larger POI is implemented. In the second itera-
tion, DIRECT triply divides POI Dj [j = 1 in the case shown
in Fig. 6(a)] and then samples power values at two new middle
points D
J3
and D
J2
, marked by a “cross sign” in Fig. 6(a). At
the end of the second iteration, DIRECT records the presence of
five intervals which can be categorized into two types of interval
length, one-third and one-ninth of the original interval length, as
shown in Fig. 6(b). In Fig. 6, the arrows illustrate the movement
of Dj when it changes from representing an old larger interval
that has been triply divided to representing a smaller interval.
According to (11) and (12), both interval D
2
and D
12
are POIs.
However, the globally biased DIRECT only chooses the one
with the largest interval length, i.e., D
2
, for further sampling in
the third iteration, as shown in Fig. 6(c). This results in six small
NGUYEN AND LOW: GLOBAL MPPT SCHEME EMPLOYING DIRECT SEARCH ALGORITHM FOR PHOTOVOLTAIC SYSTEMS 3461
Fig. 6. Iterations of DIRECT in global-biased form.
intervals and one larger interval, interval D
3
, whose length is
one-third of the original length as shown in Fig. 6(d).
In the fourth iteration, there are two POIs theoretically.
However, DIRECT still divides the one with the larger length,
interval D
3
as shown in Fig. 6(e). The dividing results in nine
intervals whose lengths are all equal to one-ninth of the original
length. Depending on the known parameters available, when
estimated as described in Section IV-A, the initial sampling
interval’s length ranges from 0.3 to 0.5. Then, the length of
those nine intervals ranges from 0.03 to 0.05. In most appli-
cations, this value is sufficiently small enough so that some
sampling points have a near approach to the GP. In other words,
the intervals that they represent contain the GP. Thus, if two
samples that have the highest powers are consecutive, D
1,1
and
D
1,2
in Fig. 6(e), the GP’s region is considered to be found
and falls in the POI. To reach the GP, DIRECT switches to
locally biased form. However, if those two sampling points are
not consecutive, this indicates that the system may have two
GPs or one local MPP whose value is closed to the GP. In this
case, globally biased DIRECT would continue for two more
cycles. This means that DIRECT will further divide and sample
the single POI, interval D
1,2
, in the fifth iteration. As a result,
there are two types of interval length again: 1/9 and 1/27 of the
initial sampling interval’s length. In the sixth iteration, DIRECT
will further sample the POI that has the larger length (1/9 of
the initial sampling interval’s length) to continue exploring the
searching range. Then, DIRECT changes to locally biased form
to focus on reaching the GP.
Generally, in the first three iterations, DIRECT takes a total
of nine samples to explore the searching region. To prevent
DIRECT from exploring unpromising regions, the number of
samples can be reduced if the first three sampling points
D
i
(i = 1, 2, 3) give the following information.
1) V
D3
is less than V
min
(V
min
= 1/3V
oc
in our experi-
ments), which means that D
33
would fall in a region that
global MPP cannot appear. Then, sampling point D
3,3
is
not taken.
2) I
D2
< I
min
(I
min
= 1/3 I
sc
), or V
D2
> V
max
(V
max
=
0.9 V
oc
), which means that D
22
would fall in a region that
global MPP cannot appear. Then, sampling point D
2,2
is
not taken.
3) Inequality (19) is not satisfied, which means that D
3
and
D
1
fall in the current region of the same peak. Then, D
3,3
and D
3,2
are not taken.
4) Inequality (20) is not satisfied, which means that D
2
and
D
1
fall in the voltage region of the same peak. Then, D
2,2
and D
2,3
are not taken.
3462 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON INDUSTRIAL ELECTRONICS, VOL. 57, NO. 10, OCTOBER 2010
Fig. 7. P–V characteristic curve under uniform insolation.
D. Locally Biased Strategy of DIRECT Algorithm
1) POI: When PV arrays operate under uniform insolation
condition, the I–V curve has only a single step, and the P–V
curve has a unique MPP, as shown in Fig. 7.
In this case, the unique MPP always falls in or is very close to
the boundary of POI D
J
, which has the maximum power P
DJ
.
In Fig. 7(b), this is the center subinterval D
1
. This means that
DIRECT does not need to explore other intervals D
i
(i = j)
in later iterations, even though they can be potentially optimal
if they satisfy (11) and (12). In summary, the locally biased
strategy always considers the interval with maximum sampling
power at its center being the only POI.
2) Stopping Criteria and Tracking Speed: The locally bi-
ased strategy of DIRECT reduces the sampling interval to
one-third after iteration if the stopping criterion has not met.
When the change in duty cycle Δd
cr
reaches a predefined
sufficiently small value, the search is terminated, and it is
assumed that the maximum point has been reached. The critical
value Δd
cr
should be chosen to be smaller than the duty cycle
step perturbation Δd in the P&O or INC algorithm, which can
be evaluated as proposed in [9].
Assume that n is the number of iterations when the search is
terminated; τ
s
is the sampling time for the system, which can
be evaluated as proposed in [9]; we have
D
max_abs
−D
min_abs
3
n
≤ Δd
cr
. (21)
Then, the maximum tracking speed of the algorithm can be
evaluated as
t
abs

= 3n ×τ
S

=
3
ln 3
×ln
_
D
max_abs
−D
min_abs
Δd
cr
_
×τ
S
.
(22)
Fig. 8 shows the simplified flowchart of the DIRECT al-
gorithm. To maintain the OP, the P&O method with small
duty cycle perturbation Δd
cr
is employed. This increases the
system’s tracking efficiency in a slightly changing insolation
environment.
Fig. 8. Flowchart of the DIRECT algorithm.
V. EXPERIMENTAL RESULTS
A. System Setup
The operation of the DIRECT algorithm has been evaluated
by experiments. A prototype of the MPPT system shown in
Fig. 9 has been implemented.
According to the comparative study of the converter topolo-
gies for MPPT in a PV system [3], the buck–boost dc/dc
converter possesses the characteristics for it to follow the
PV array’s MPP at all times, regardless of the cell tempera-
ture, the solar global irradiation, and the connected load. For
this study, we use a buck–boost converter with the following
specifications: C = 470 μF, C
o
= 220 μF, L = 1.5 mH, and
20-kHz switching frequency. As the system should reach the
steady state before another MPPT cycle begins, the sampling
interval is chosen as 0.05 s. To evaluate the effectiveness of
the proposed approach, its performance is compared with that
NGUYEN AND LOW: GLOBAL MPPT SCHEME EMPLOYING DIRECT SEARCH ALGORITHM FOR PHOTOVOLTAIC SYSTEMS 3463
Fig. 9. System block diagram of the PV system.
TABLE I
SPECIFICATIONS OF THE 20-W PV PANEL
of the algorithm developed for a partially shaded condition as
proposed in [19]. The experiments were conducted using three
Agilent E4360B solar array simulators (SASs) connected in
parallel as a power source. The SAS is capable of simulating the
I–V curves of different arrays under different environmental
conditions if these data points of the I–V curve are available
and input to the SAS. The solar array which was used to collect
the actual I–V curves is a parallel of three 20-W solar panels
with integrated bypass diodes. The key specifications of the
solar panels are shown in Table I. To prevent the system’s
voltage drop caused by the shaded panels, blocking diodes were
also installed in each branch. When environmental conditions
were changed, the data points of the new I–V curves were
collected so that these I–V curves could be built back by the
SAS later in the experiments. Thus, we can reproduce the same
changing scenarios in two experiments implemented with our
proposed algorithm and other algorithm.
Assume that the PV system is operating in the temperature
range of (10

C, 60

C) and insolation range of (0 W/m
2
,
1000 W/m
2
). Moreover, it is assumed that the resistive load is
10 Ω. Then, the absolute sampling interval (0.45, 0.85) can be
estimated using (17) and (18).
B. Partially Shaded Condition Results
The experimental results in Fig. 10(a) and (b) show the track-
ing voltage, current, and power for DIRECT and the algorithm
in [19], respectively. The experiments were conducted with
three consecutive scenarios. In the first scenario, the SAS gen-
erates the I–V curve of the PV array under uniform insolation
condition. This condition was maintained for 1.5 s before it
was changed to partially shaded condition. For partially shaded
condition 2, the I–V curve was programmed to have two local
MPPs. After another 1.5 s, the partially shaded condition was
changed such that the I–V curve is having three local MPPs.
Fig. 10. Tracking voltage, current, and power. (a) Proposed algorithm.
(b) Algorithm developed in [19].
From the experimental data, the movement of the OP in the first
three samples for the last two scenarios is shown in Fig. 11(a)
and (b), together with the changing characteristic curves. In
Fig. 11, the thin lines represent the characteristic curves from
the previous scenario, while the bold lines represent the latest
characteristic curves.
The proposed algorithm first samples three points in the
sampling interval to identify the insolation state, as shown on
the top left in Fig. 10(a). From (19) and (20), the information
obtained from these samples is used to confirm the presence of
3464 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON INDUSTRIAL ELECTRONICS, VOL. 57, NO. 10, OCTOBER 2010
Fig. 11. Illustration of the OP movement in the experiment. (a) Uniform
insolation to partially shaded condition 2. (b) Partially shaded condition 2 to
condition 3.
the uniform insolation condition. Subsequently, the proposed
algorithm switches to the locally biased mode in the fourth
sampling cycle, as indicated by the vertical arrow in Fig. 10(a).
In Fig. 10(b), the algorithm in [19] first tracks the nearest local
MPP. It then searches on the left of this local MPP to find others.
This is illustrated by the gradual increase and then decrease in
the tracking voltage (and power). Since the PV panels are under
uniform insolation, the tracking power drops when the tracking
voltage reduces. The algorithm in [19] detects the presence of
the uniform insolation when the power reduction is larger than
the critical value. Then, it considers the found local MPP as the
GP and set the OP at this local MPP.
In the second scenario, the I–V curve changes shape as
the environment changes from uniform insolation to partially
shaded condition. Consequently, the OP shifts from 1 to 1

,
as shown in Fig. 11(a). The movement of the OP results in
a drop of the tracking power. This is indicated by the dotted
circle in Fig. 10(a). This drop in the tracking power activates the
proposed algorithm to take three new samples. The information
derived from the samples verifies the presence of the partially
TABLE II
(a) TRACKING PERFORMANCE COMPARISON AT A RATE OF CHANGE
OF 1.5 s. (b) TRACKING PERFORMANCE COMPARISON
AT A RATE OF CHANGE OF 3 s
shaded condition based on (19) and (20). Hence, the globally
biased mode is set to explore the GP’s region. This exploration
results in the fluctuations of the tracking voltage and current
in Fig. 10(a). At the ninth sampling time, the system finds the
GP’s region and switches to local-biased mode to track this GP.
As shown in the P–V curve in Fig. 11(a), there is no other
local MPP on the left of the nearest found local MPP. Thus, the
algorithm in [19] keeps searching on the left until it reaches
V
min
, as shown in Fig. 10(b). Then, it searches on the right
to find other local MPPs. Since the second found local MPP
is higher than the first, the algorithm continues searching on
the right until it reaches V
max
. The algorithm then considers
the second local MPP as the GP and set it to be the OP. This
searching strategy is illustrated by the experimental results in
Fig. 10(b). In the other two-peak P–V curve, the searching
scenario is the same. Thus, this strategy would result in longer
tracking time and larger power loss as compared to the proposed
algorithm.
In the third scenario, the partially shading patterns change
again. This results in the presence of the three local MPPs in
the P–V curve, as shown in Fig. 11(b). The OP shifts from
2 to 2

. Similar to the second scenario, DIRECT focuses on
exploring the new sampling interval until it finds the GP’s
region at the eighth sampling cycle. Then, it switches to locally
biased mode to reach the GP, as shown in Fig. 10(a). In this
scenario, the algorithm in [19] has a favorable condition since
the first local MPP is also the GP. When searching on the left,
the algorithm finds the second local MPP, which is smaller
than the first, as shown in Fig. 11(b). It reverses the searching
direction and then finds the third local MPP. Since the third
local MPP is also smaller than the first, the algorithm stops
exploring and considers the first local MPP as the GP. Table II
shows the comparative results with different rate of change of
environmental conditions.
NGUYEN AND LOW: GLOBAL MPPT SCHEME EMPLOYING DIRECT SEARCH ALGORITHM FOR PHOTOVOLTAIC SYSTEMS 3465
Fig. 12. Test of the DIRECT algorithm with actual solar panels.
Fig. 13. Test of the algorithm in [19] with actual solar panels.
Fig. 14. Tracking characteristics of DIRECT.
Fig. 15. Tracking characteristics of the algorithm in [19].
In conclusion, the experiments show that both the algorithms
can successfully track the GP. However, the proposed algorithm
can track two times faster, and its tracking efficiency is 10%
higher than that of the existing algorithm during a rapidly
changing environment. In slowly changing environmental con-
ditions as shown in Table II(b), the tracking efficiency of both
the algorithms is more comparable since both can track the GP.
To further evaluate the effectiveness of the proposed algo-
rithm in an actual environment, some experiments have been
conducted with the actual solar arrays as the power source.
For the experiment, two branches of the solar arrays have been
connected in parallel with each branch using two 20-W solar
panels connected in series. To reduce the effect of shading,
bypass diodes are used across each panel, and the blocking
diodes have been installed in each branch [27], [30]. To increase
the chance of partial shading, the solar panels are placed 5 m
apart along the same direction. The experimental data have been
collected continuously from 10 A.M. to 4 P.M. as that in [31]
and [32]. Figs. 12 and 13 show the typical experimental results
of the DIRECT algorithm and the algorithm in [19] carried up
on two different days. Figs. 14(a) and 15(a) show the details of
the experiments corresponding to the portion circled by dotted
lines in Figs. 12 and 13, respectively. They show the tracking
ability of the DIRECT algorithm and the algorithm in [19]
3466 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON INDUSTRIAL ELECTRONICS, VOL. 57, NO. 10, OCTOBER 2010
when partial shading happened. Figs. 14(b) and 15(b) show
the corresponding I–V curves of the two algorithms during the
tracking time.
From Fig. 14(b), it is observed that DIRECT has a good
tracking performance since most of its tracking points gather
closely to the GP with only a few points spread through the
I–V curve when searching for the GP’s region. Furthermore,
the algorithm follows the MPP well when the insolation level
reduced. On the other hand, the algorithm in [19] needs to scan
almost 80%of the I–V curve to search for the MPP. The density
of the tracking points is distributed quite evenly in the I–V
curve and only slightly higher at the GP, as shown in Fig. 15(b).
In this case, the reducing insolation did not happen during the
experiment. However, the tracking ability is expected to be
the same as the DIRECT algorithm since both algorithms use
the P&O method to maintain the OP.
VI. CONCLUSION
In this paper, a new approach for global maximum power
tracking for a PV system has been proposed based on the
DIRECT algorithm. The proposed approach overcomes the
weaknesses of some of the existing methods as it is capable of
searching for global maximum. This is particularly important
for a system that is partially shaded. The experimental results
have shown that the proposed approach outperforms some
approaches in terms of tracking performance and robustness,
particularly in fast-changing environmental conditions. Further-
more, the algorithm can be implemented quite easily using a
low-cost microcontroller.
ACKNOWLEDGMENT
The authors would like to thank DSO National Laboratories
for the support of this research.
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NGUYEN AND LOW: GLOBAL MPPT SCHEME EMPLOYING DIRECT SEARCH ALGORITHM FOR PHOTOVOLTAIC SYSTEMS 3467
Tat Luat Nguyen received the M. Eng. degree in
electrical and electronics engineering from Nanyang
Technological University, Singapore, in 2010.
He is currently a Research and Development
Engineer at Seagate Technology International,
Singapore. His research interests include computer-
aided simulation techniques and renewable energy,
particularly photovoltaic energy.
Kay-Soon Low (M’88–SM’00) received the B.Eng.
degree in electrical engineering from the National
University of Singapore, Singapore, and the Ph.D.
degree in electrical engineering from The University
of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.
In 1994, he joined the School of Electrical
and Electronic Engineering, Nanyang Technologi-
cal University, Singapore, as a Lecturer and subse-
quently became an Associate Professor, where he is
currently the Director of the Satellite Research Cen-
tre. He has served as a Consultant to many companies
and has a number of granted patents on nonlinear circuits and UWB systems.
His funded projects are in the field of UWB medical imaging, wireless sensor
networks, motion control systems, pulse neural networks, and satellite systems.

Rs and RSH are the series and shunt resistances.e. The Lipschitz inequality (8) gives both the upper and lower bounds on the values of the function p(v) at other points as [23] p(v1 ) − M |v − v1 | ≤ p(v) ≤ max p(v) ≤ p(v1 ) + M |v − v1 |. (5) Consider the jth module in the bth branch. Irs is the reversed saturation current of a diode. A is the ideal factor with a value from one to two. b] [23]. . (6) + nP _bj nS _bj RSH From (2)–(6).NGUYEN AND LOW: GLOBAL MPPT SCHEME EMPLOYING DIRECT SEARCH ALGORITHM FOR PHOTOVOLTAIC SYSTEMS 3457 high level changing of insolation. one can develop an efficient algorithm to find a solution within a prespecified tolerance of an optimal solution in a finite number of iterations [21]. the output current ia and voltage va can be described as Np Equation (8) is known as the Lipschitz condition [20]. Therefore.b] b−a . The organization of this paper is as follows. (7) becomes |p(v1 ) − p(v2 )| ≤ M |v1 − v2 | ∀ v1 . Then. Both M and (b − a) might be large initially. (8) RSH where Iph is the photocurrent generated by a PV cell. we can effectively replace (b − a) by the length of smaller subintervals successively. Thus. and i and v are the solar cell current and voltage. v2 ). II. b]. (9) and (10) give a bound on how far the GP is deviated from the observed sample p(v1 ). In this paper. it can be verified that ∂vj =− ∂ib 1+ K vbj +ibj n RS q P _bj kT A IRS RS e nS nS _bj + RS RSH K vbj +ibj n RS qnP _bj P _bj kT AnS _bj IRS e _bj . a module) under the same environmental conditions that consists of ns solar cells connected in series and np solar strings connected in parallel. ∂Pa /∂Va exists and is bounded by a maximum value M . v2 ∈ [a. k is the Boltzmann’s constant. When the PV array is under a partially shaded condition. For a group of solar cells (i. In Section II. respectively. there exists c ∈ [v1 . v2 ∈ [a. Since the function p(v) satisfies the condition. respectively. As only a moderate model is needed for control purposes in this paper. q is the electron charge. it is shown that the function describing the power/voltage relationship of PV cells is a Lipschitz function. Section V shows the experimental results and evaluates the system performance on convergent speed as well as its tracking efficiency. with just one sample. Section VI summarizes the work. for every v1 . Lipschitz Characteristics of P –V Function Multiplying (2) by (3) yields the power pa . it is known as a Lipschitz function with a Lipschitz constant M and is also uniformly continuous and bounded on [a. The proposed approach is developed based on the dividing rectangles (DIRECT ) algorithm that was developed in [20] for searching the global extreme of a Lipschitz function in an interval. b]. a single-diode PV model is used [25]. [22]. it can be shown from (9) that p(v) ≤ max p(v) ≤ p(v1 ) + M v∈[a. The DIRECT search algorithm is one of them and particularly effective where the Lipchitz constant M is unknown or difficult to be estimated [20]. Assume that the new configuration consists of Np branches in parallel and a maximum of Ns modules in series in a branch. different models have been proposed to characterize PV cells. PV Array Characteristics In [24]–[26]. b] (4) ⎛ ⎝ NS j=1 ⎞−1 ∂vj ⎠ ∂ib ∀ va ∈ [a. and then performing partial differentiation with respect to va yields the following: ∂pa ∂ia = ia + va ∂va ∂va where ∂ia = ∂va Np b=1 ∀ va ∈ [a. Section IV presents its implementation for PV systems. v2 ] such that |p(v1 ) − p(v2 )| ∂p = |v1 − v2 | ∂va = p (c). F UNDAMENTAL C HARACTERISTICS OF PV C ELL A. c ∈ (v1 . the DIRECT algorithm can be employed in tracking global maximum power of a PV system. by taking further samples. the current–voltage output characteristics can be described as i = np Iph − np Irs exp − nS v + i nP RS nS nP B. the PV cells under the same insolation condition can be regrouped to form new modules [27]. Assume that v1 is a sampled point and that v is a variable. By the mean value theorem. In this manner. b]. 2 (10) ia = b=1 NS ib (2) va = j=1 vj (3) where ib is the current in the bth branch and vj is the voltage across the jth module in a branch. these modules can be considered to be connected in series and/or parallel to form a new PV array according to the shading pattern. However.. the fundamental characteristics of PV cells are discussed. v∈[a. [28]. Finally. b].b] (9) If v1 is at the center of [a. (7) c q kT Ans v+i nS RS nP −1 (1) As p (c) is bounded by M . Section III introduces an overview of the DIRECT algorithm.

the maximum measurement error of power is less than 3%. Identification of Sampling Interval for PV System In the following. which plots the function’s values at the center of the sampled intervals versus the intervals’ length. 2 ∀ i (11) (12) The inequality (11) expresses the decision only to choose intervals that would promise the best improvement in the function value. With this strategy. two main ideas of the DIRECT algorithm. its development to track an MPP of PV arrays will be presented in the next section. will be reviewed. 1(a)] will be created. III. 1(a) shows the area-dividing strategy of the DIRECT algorithm when a sampling interval [a. The parameter ε in (12) ensures that the POIs would yield better improvement than fmax by at least an amount ε|fmax |. the dividing strategy is different. it implies that only the interval with the highest function value at its middle point is the POI. The algorithm then evaluates three samples to decide the next sampling interval. However. I MPLEMENTATION FOR PV S YSTEM A. The sample V1 simply becomes the center of the new middle interval. POI When an interval is to be divided for further sampling. ε is set to zero to allow the GP to be reached. 1(b). (a) Dividing strategy. where Dmin _abs > 0 and Dmax _abs < 1. the algorithm becomes more local in its searching when the value of ε gets smaller. Assume that the algorithm has already taken a sample V1 at the center of [a. as shown in Fig. IV. 57. VOL. 10. For intervals with the same length.3458 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON INDUSTRIAL ELECTRONICS.” Theoretically. The definition of POI in the original algorithm is shown in Fig. only those that satisfy (11) and (12) are considered potentially optimal [20]. of the opencircuit voltage Voc_ max and Voc_ min . VMMP falls between 0 V and Voc_ max . namely. the duty cycle would be in the range of (0. When the algorithm is doing the local search. This interval is then divided into three parts. Among all the intervals. Subsequently. For the proposed algorithm. OVERVIEW OF D IRECT A LGORITHM In this section. can be constrained much smaller in practice. the maximum errors of current and voltage sensors are 1. Interval J is said to be potentially optimal if there exists a rate of change constant K > 0 such that [20] f (xj ) + K f (cj ) + K (aj − bj ) (ai − bi ) ≥ f (xi ) + K 2 2 (aj − bj ) ≥ fmax + ε|fmax |. Dmax _abs ]. this range [Dmin _abs . 1). For the PV system under investigation. Once an interval is chosen to be explored further. As reported in [20].5%. This results in five samples at the end of the second dividing cycle. it will be further triply divided. and samples V2 and V3 are taken at the center points of the left and right intervals. B. the area-dividing strategies and the potentially optimal intervals (POIs). respectively. 1(a). and of the equivalent .03. the interval is referred to as potentially optimal. 2 shows a method to systematically estimate Dmin _abs and Dmax _abs with known boundary parameters: the maximum and minimum of the short-circuit current Isc_ max and Isc_ min . as described in Section IV-C and D. b] in the previous step. Area-Dividing Strategies Fig. OCTOBER 2010 Fig. A. and two more samples [V32 and V33 in the case shown in Fig. ε is chosen as 0. When the proposed algorithm performs global search. DIRECT only requires two new samples in each dividing cycle for evaluation. a maximum percentage error of the measured power can be used as a guideline for the choice of ε. 1. In our design. b] has been specified. Fig. NO. Thus. In the case that a dc/dc converter is used to vary the OP of the PV system. the interval that the duty cycle always falls within is termed as the “absolute sampling interval. The original DIRECT algorithm divides all POIs to search for the GP globally and locally at the same time. Let ε > 0 be a positive constant and fmax be the current best function value. (b) POIs.

as shown in Fig. the gray area in Fig. DIRECT would divide interval Di into three subintervals and take two new samples Di2 and Di3 at the new middle points. Since VD3 < VD1 . the maximum and minimum reflected equivalent load at the PV array output can be estimated as Rpv_ min = Rpv_ max = Voc_ min α × Voc_ min = Isc_ max Isc_ max Voc_ max Isc_ min = Voc_ max β × Isc_ min (13) (14) where α and β are the scaling factors for the estimated Voc_ min and Isc_ max . there may be insufficient information obtained from the present I–V characteristic.g. Assume that a sample at Di (i is one or two) is maximum.2.2 VD2 − VD1 = ≥ 0. and D2 . Thus. This condition . √ Rpv + ηbb Rload (16) 1−D D 2 × Rload . VD2 VD2 (19) (20) Fig. which means that ID3 is close to ID1 . The smaller sampling interval will lead to an increase in convergent speed. with the introducing of the converter efficiency ηbb as that in [29]. To track a new MPP. for two-stair I–V curve cases. with information given by D1 . the duty cycle boundaries Dmin _abs and Dmax _abs can be estimated accordingly. In other words. In general. ID1 would be smaller than IMPP (IMPP ≈ ID3 ) of the I–V curve representing the first stair. PD3 < PD1 . Assume that DIRECT has successfully moved the OP to the MPP Dm1 in previous steps. Similar process is applied for cases when only (20) is not satisfied. (15) (18) In some situations. it is observed that the I–V curves have multiple stairs while the P –V curves are characterized by multiple peaks [27]. Voc_ min with Voc and Isc_ max . the initial tracking. Depending on the dc–dc converter topology. the relationship between the reflected equivalent load at the PV array output Rpv and Rload [3] becomes Rpv = ηbb Rewriting (15). and Voc or Isc can be estimated. respectively.1 ID3 ID3 ΔVD1. in general. much information can be obtained from previous sampled points in most cases. Thus. Isc_ min with Isc in (13) and (14).1 ID3 − ID1 = ≥ 0. 2. as shown in Fig. 3(a). Dmax ) can be estimated smaller than (Dmin _abs . Their values are less than one and determine the range of the estimated interval. e. any two consecutive stairs can always be considered as under one larger stair. 3(a). However. Absolute sampling interval estimation method. When a partially shaded condition happens. (19) and (20) easily hold true in those cases.2” are chosen based on the observation that IMPP and VMPP are about 90% and 80% of Isc and Voc of a single I–V curve. 2. 3) to identify whether the PV arrays are under uniform or partially shaded conditions. according to the definition of POIs. the specific sampling interval (Dmin . resistive load Rload_ max and Rload_ min . the insolation condition can be identified properly. the OP will move from 1 to 2 due to the change of the I–V curve. DIRECT initializes the sampling interval and takes three new samples Di (i = 1. as shown in Fig. 5(a). 2. From Fig. 5(a) shows cases when (19) is not satisfied. Thus. Fig. Again. DIRECT would need to take further samples to identify the insolation condition. by replacing The criterion values “0. 2. and VD2 would also be larger than Voc (Voc > VD1 ) of the I–V curve representing the middle stair. If the buck–boost topology is implemented. IDi and VDi (i = 1. 4(b). Partially Shaded Condition Identification Under partially shaded condition. 4(a) shows that (19) and (20) also hold true. DIRECT has high chance to identify a partially shaded condition if there is at least one of the first three samples taken in a different stair from others.1” and “0. under a partially shaded condition. B. 3) are well separated. either sample at D1 or D2 is the maximum among the first three samples. Fig. Di2 (or Di3 ). respectively [12]. The analysis based on the observation of a single stair in a multistair I–V curve can always be considered as part of the I–V curve of a module under uniform condition. In the case that only (19) or (20) is satisfied.NGUYEN AND LOW: GLOBAL MPPT SCHEME EMPLOYING DIRECT SEARCH ALGORITHM FOR PHOTOVOLTAIC SYSTEMS 3459 Voc_ max . ηbb Rload_ max (17) √ ηbb Rload . Thus. The movement results in a reduction of the tracked power even though the duty cycle is not changed.. and the absolute sampling interval is feasible for tracking the GP successfully. we have D= From (16) Dmin _abs = Dmax _abs = ηbb Rload_ min Rpv_ max + Rpv_ min + ηbb Rload_ min ηbb Rload_ max . If the I–V curve has more than three stairs. Dmax _abs ). for example. which means that both (19) and (20) are satisfied ΔID3.

marked by a “cross sign” in Fig. as shown in Fig. DIRECT records the presence of five intervals which can be categorized into two types of interval length. Fig. 6(a)] and then samples power values at two new middle points DJ3 and DJ2 . I–V curve has two stairs. According to (11) and (12). VOL. In Fig. DIRECT still can reach the GP. 6(a). DIRECT triply divides POI Dj [j = 1 in the case shown in Fig. 6(b). However. (b) First three samples illustration. one-third and one-ninth of the original interval length. for further sampling in the third iteration. the globally biased DIRECT only chooses the one with the largest interval length. as shown in Fig. 6(c). 57.e. D2 . NO. OCTOBER 2010 Fig.. always happens if the initial sampling interval is estimated large enough. However. 10. This results in six small . both interval D2 and D12 are POIs. 6. C. Globally Biased Strategy of DIRECT Algorithm When the PV arrays are under a partially shaded condition. the arrows illustrate the movement of Dj when it changes from representing an old larger interval that has been triply divided to representing a smaller interval. 5. In the second itera- tion. as shown in Fig. (a) OP movement. i.3460 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON INDUSTRIAL ELECTRONICS. Fig. At the end of the second iteration. Partially shaded condition identification in (a) two-stair I–V curves and (b) more-than-three-stair I–V curves. 3. if the first three samples are taken in the same stair. Since the area under the stair that the first three samples are taken in is always larger than others if they present. the globally biased form of the DIRECT algorithm that focuses on exploring a larger POI is implemented. 5(b). 4. DIRECT would identify the condition as a uniform case and switch to the locally biased strategy for faster tracking speed.

if two samples that have the highest powers are consecutive. DIRECT switches to locally biased form. To reach the GP. Then. This means that DIRECT will further divide and sample the single POI.5. interval D1. To prevent DIRECT from exploring unpromising regions. the intervals that they represent contain the GP. DIRECT changes to locally biased form to focus on reaching the GP. the GP’s region is considered to be found and falls in the POI. there are two types of interval length again: 1/9 and 1/27 of the initial sampling interval’s length.2 and D2. when estimated as described in Section IV-A.NGUYEN AND LOW: GLOBAL MPPT SCHEME EMPLOYING DIRECT SEARCH ALGORITHM FOR PHOTOVOLTAIC SYSTEMS 3461 Fig. DIRECT still divides the one with the larger length. D1. which means that D33 would fall in a region that global MPP cannot appear. Then. whose length is one-third of the original length as shown in Fig. DIRECT will further sample the POI that has the larger length (1/9 of the initial sampling interval’s length) to continue exploring the searching range.2 in Fig. interval D3 as shown in Fig. the initial sampling interval’s length ranges from 0. which means that D2 and D1 fall in the voltage region of the same peak.3 is not taken. In the sixth iteration. sampling point D3. this indicates that the system may have two GPs or one local MPP whose value is closed to the GP.3 are not taken. which means that D3 and D1 fall in the current region of the same peak. The dividing results in nine intervals whose lengths are all equal to one-ninth of the original length. D2. However. globally biased DIRECT would continue for two more cycles. interval D3 . 3) Inequality (19) is not satisfied. In other words. Then. the length of those nine intervals ranges from 0. Then. However. in the first three iterations. in the fifth iteration. there are two POIs theoretically.3 to 0. 3) give the following information. In the fourth iteration.1 and D1. Generally. Then. DIRECT takes a total of nine samples to explore the searching region. In most applications. D3.9 Voc ).2 are not taken. 2) ID2 < Imin (Imin = 1/3 Isc ). Thus. intervals and one larger interval. which means that D22 would fall in a region that global MPP cannot appear. the number of samples can be reduced if the first three sampling points Di (i = 1. 1) VD3 is less than Vmin (Vmin = 1/3Voc in our experiments). 6(d). As a result. Iterations of DIRECT in global-biased form. 6. this value is sufficiently small enough so that some sampling points have a near approach to the GP. . In this case.3 and D3. 2. sampling point D2.2 .03 to 0. Depending on the known parameters available. Then. 6(e). or VD2 > Vmax (Vmax = 0. 6(e). if those two sampling points are not consecutive.05.2 is not taken. 4) Inequality (20) is not satisfied.

9 has been implemented. . In Fig.3462 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON INDUSTRIAL ELECTRONICS. E XPERIMENTAL R ESULTS (21) A. To maintain the OP. 7. (22) Fig. and the connected load. and 20-kHz switching frequency. Flowchart of the DIRECT algorithm. System Setup The operation of the DIRECT algorithm has been evaluated by experiments. D. which can be evaluated as proposed in [9]. the solar global irradiation. 8 shows the simplified flowchart of the DIRECT algorithm.05 s. the unique MPP always falls in or is very close to the boundary of POI DJ .5 mH. 7(b). we use a buck–boost converter with the following specifications: C = 470 μF. the locally biased strategy always considers the interval with maximum sampling power at its center being the only POI. To evaluate the effectiveness of the proposed approach. This means that DIRECT does not need to explore other intervals Di (i = j) in later iterations. τs is the sampling time for the system. The critical value Δdcr should be chosen to be smaller than the duty cycle step perturbation Δd in the P&O or INC algorithm. the maximum tracking speed of the algorithm can be evaluated as 3 tabs ∼ 3n × τS ∼ × ln = = ln 3 Dmax _abs − Dmin _abs Δdcr × τS . L = 1. 8. VOL. V. According to the comparative study of the converter topologies for MPPT in a PV system [3]. Co = 220 μF. 3n Fig. the buck–boost dc/dc converter possesses the characteristics for it to follow the PV array’s MPP at all times. When the change in duty cycle Δdcr reaches a predefined sufficiently small value. and the P –V curve has a unique MPP. 7. which has the maximum power PDJ . A prototype of the MPPT system shown in Fig. In summary. the P&O method with small duty cycle perturbation Δdcr is employed. Locally Biased Strategy of DIRECT Algorithm 1) POI: When PV arrays operate under uniform insolation condition. OCTOBER 2010 Fig. the search is terminated. For this study. and it is assumed that the maximum point has been reached. P –V characteristic curve under uniform insolation. Assume that n is the number of iterations when the search is terminated. as shown in Fig. even though they can be potentially optimal if they satisfy (11) and (12). 2) Stopping Criteria and Tracking Speed: The locally biased strategy of DIRECT reduces the sampling interval to one-third after iteration if the stopping criterion has not met. 57. the I–V curve has only a single step. In this case. NO. its performance is compared with that Then. the sampling interval is chosen as 0. This increases the system’s tracking efficiency in a slightly changing insolation environment. regardless of the cell temperature. 10. which can be evaluated as proposed in [9]. we have Dmax _abs − Dmin _abs ≤ Δdcr . this is the center subinterval D1 . As the system should reach the steady state before another MPPT cycle begins.

5 s before it was changed to partially shaded condition. while the bold lines represent the latest characteristic curves. 9. and power for DIRECT and the algorithm in [19]. the thin lines represent the characteristic curves from the previous scenario. the SAS generates the I–V curve of the PV array under uniform insolation condition. the information obtained from these samples is used to confirm the presence of . Partially Shaded Condition Results The experimental results in Fig. TABLE I S PECIFICATIONS OF THE 20-W PV PANEL of the algorithm developed for a partially shaded condition as proposed in [19]. we can reproduce the same changing scenarios in two experiments implemented with our proposed algorithm and other algorithm. For partially shaded condition 2. The SAS is capable of simulating the I–V curves of different arrays under different environmental conditions if these data points of the I–V curve are available and input to the SAS. After another 1. it is assumed that the resistive load is 10 Ω. (b) Algorithm developed in [19]. the movement of the OP in the first three samples for the last two scenarios is shown in Fig. Thus. Fig. current. The experiments were conducted using three Agilent E4360B solar array simulators (SASs) connected in parallel as a power source. Tracking voltage. 10. System block diagram of the PV system. The proposed algorithm first samples three points in the sampling interval to identify the insolation state. In Fig. From the experimental data. blocking diodes were also installed in each branch. The solar array which was used to collect the actual I–V curves is a parallel of three 20-W solar panels with integrated bypass diodes. 11(a) and (b). 10(a). The key specifications of the solar panels are shown in Table I. To prevent the system’s voltage drop caused by the shaded panels. as shown on the top left in Fig. 10(a) and (b) show the tracking voltage. Assume that the PV system is operating in the temperature range of (10 ◦ C. current. and power. In the first scenario. From (19) and (20).45. the partially shaded condition was changed such that the I–V curve is having three local MPPs.NGUYEN AND LOW: GLOBAL MPPT SCHEME EMPLOYING DIRECT SEARCH ALGORITHM FOR PHOTOVOLTAIC SYSTEMS 3463 Fig. Then. respectively. the I–V curve was programmed to have two local MPPs. This condition was maintained for 1. 60 ◦ C) and insolation range of (0 W/m2 . 0. (a) Proposed algorithm. Moreover. the data points of the new I–V curves were collected so that these I–V curves could be built back by the SAS later in the experiments. together with the changing characteristic curves.5 s. the absolute sampling interval (0.85) can be estimated using (17) and (18). When environmental conditions were changed. B. 11. The experiments were conducted with three consecutive scenarios. 1000 W/m2 ).

the algorithm continues searching on the right until it reaches Vmax . the algorithm in [19] has a favorable condition since the first local MPP is also the GP. Subsequently. as shown in Fig. It reverses the searching direction and then finds the third local MPP. In Fig. In the third scenario. Then. In this scenario. (b) T RACKING P ERFORMANCE C OMPARISON AT A R ATE OF C HANGE OF 3 s Fig. which is smaller than the first. this strategy would result in longer tracking time and larger power loss as compared to the proposed algorithm. In the second scenario. the tracking power drops when the tracking voltage reduces. 11. Similar to the second scenario. the uniform insolation condition. The movement of the OP results in a drop of the tracking power. . Illustration of the OP movement in the experiment. (a) Uniform insolation to partially shaded condition 2. the system finds the GP’s region and switches to local-biased mode to track this GP. Thus. 11(a). 10(b). the algorithm finds the second local MPP. Since the PV panels are under uniform insolation. (b) Partially shaded condition 2 to condition 3. This searching strategy is illustrated by the experimental results in Fig. it considers the found local MPP as the GP and set the OP at this local MPP. as shown in Fig. 10(a). Thus. the I–V curve changes shape as the environment changes from uniform insolation to partially shaded condition. DIRECT focuses on exploring the new sampling interval until it finds the GP’s region at the eighth sampling cycle. Hence. When searching on the left. This is illustrated by the gradual increase and then decrease in the tracking voltage (and power). the algorithm in [19] keeps searching on the left until it reaches Vmin . Since the second found local MPP is higher than the first. The algorithm then considers the second local MPP as the GP and set it to be the OP. As shown in the P –V curve in Fig. 57. OCTOBER 2010 TABLE II (a) T RACKING P ERFORMANCE C OMPARISON AT A R ATE OF C HANGE OF 1. it switches to locally biased mode to reach the GP. as shown in Fig. the searching scenario is the same. 10(a). In the other two-peak P –V curve. 11(b). the OP shifts from 1 to 1 . Table II shows the comparative results with different rate of change of environmental conditions. 11(a). 10(b). This is indicated by the dotted circle in Fig. At the ninth sampling time. This drop in the tracking power activates the proposed algorithm to take three new samples. The information derived from the samples verifies the presence of the partially shaded condition based on (19) and (20). 11(b). it searches on the right to find other local MPPs. there is no other local MPP on the left of the nearest found local MPP. 10. The OP shifts from 2 to 2 . This exploration results in the fluctuations of the tracking voltage and current in Fig.3464 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON INDUSTRIAL ELECTRONICS. the globally biased mode is set to explore the GP’s region. the partially shading patterns change again. Then. the algorithm stops exploring and considers the first local MPP as the GP. as shown in Fig. 10(b). as indicated by the vertical arrow in Fig. The algorithm in [19] detects the presence of the uniform insolation when the power reduction is larger than the critical value. the algorithm in [19] first tracks the nearest local MPP. Then. This results in the presence of the three local MPPs in the P –V curve. 10(a). NO. 10(a). as shown in Fig. VOL. Consequently. It then searches on the left of this local MPP to find others. Since the third local MPP is also smaller than the first. the proposed algorithm switches to the locally biased mode in the fourth sampling cycle.5 s.

12 and 13 show the typical experimental results of the DIRECT algorithm and the algorithm in [19] carried up on two different days. M . and its tracking efficiency is 10% higher than that of the existing algorithm during a rapidly changing environment. two branches of the solar arrays have been connected in parallel with each branch using two 20-W solar panels connected in series. 14. the tracking efficiency of both the algorithms is more comparable since both can track the GP. Figs. To reduce the effect of shading. Fig. Test of the algorithm in [19] with actual solar panels. For the experiment. 12 and 13. Test of the DIRECT algorithm with actual solar panels. To further evaluate the effectiveness of the proposed algorithm in an actual environment. Fig. 12. To increase the chance of partial shading. Tracking characteristics of DIRECT. [30]. as that in [31] and [32]. In conclusion. Fig. respectively. some experiments have been conducted with the actual solar arrays as the power source. 14(a) and 15(a) show the details of the experiments corresponding to the portion circled by dotted lines in Figs. the solar panels are placed 5 m apart along the same direction. However. to 4 P. 13. the proposed algorithm can track two times faster. and the blocking diodes have been installed in each branch [27]. Tracking characteristics of the algorithm in [19]. the experiments show that both the algorithms can successfully track the GP. The experimental data have been collected continuously from 10 A . In slowly changing environmental conditions as shown in Table II(b). They show the tracking ability of the DIRECT algorithm and the algorithm in [19] . Figs.NGUYEN AND LOW: GLOBAL MPPT SCHEME EMPLOYING DIRECT SEARCH ALGORITHM FOR PHOTOVOLTAIC SYSTEMS 3465 Fig. 15. bypass diodes are used across each panel. M .

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motion control systems. In 1994. Singapore. Singapore. particularly photovoltaic energy.D. He is currently a Research and Development Engineer at Seagate Technology International. Singapore. as a Lecturer and subsequently became an Associate Professor. Kay-Soon Low (M’88–SM’00) received the B. wireless sensor networks. Singapore. degree in electrical engineering from The University of New South Wales. Sydney. where he is currently the Director of the Satellite Research Centre. in 2010. His funded projects are in the field of UWB medical imaging. and the Ph. . he joined the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering. degree in electrical engineering from the National University of Singapore. He has served as a Consultant to many companies and has a number of granted patents on nonlinear circuits and UWB systems. Eng.NGUYEN AND LOW: GLOBAL MPPT SCHEME EMPLOYING DIRECT SEARCH ALGORITHM FOR PHOTOVOLTAIC SYSTEMS 3467 Tat Luat Nguyen received the M. degree in electrical and electronics engineering from Nanyang Technological University. pulse neural networks. Australia. and satellite systems.Eng. His research interests include computeraided simulation techniques and renewable energy. Nanyang Technological University.