Photovoltaics

The research topic ‘photovoltaic energy’ is performed in collaboration with the research group Energy & Automation (E&A). The research focuses on the characterization, modeling, and analysis of photovoltaic cells and panels. Within the research groups, there is experience in the dimensioning of autonomous systems, based on solar panels and batteries and complex hybrid systems with back-up generators.

Currently there are research projects on the improvement of encapsulates for solar cells and detailed characterization of energy gain from photovoltaic solar panels.

The current-voltage characteristics (I-V curves) and spectral response of both bare and encapsulated solar cells can be determined, together with I-V curves of commercial solar panels in use. I-V curves can be used for a broad range of solar panel tests, where the determination of the efficiency is the most important factor.

Commercial solar panels are measured at the campus in a state-of-the-art measurement setup. Herein, the solar panels are monitored in environmental conditions during their normal operation, with continuous measurement of the climatological parameters (incident irradiation, wind speed and direction, environmental temperature, and temperature of the solar panels). The electrical parameters of the solar panels are measured with an accuracy higher than 0.5%, while the environmental conditions are registered each second. The panels are connected to one or more converters, where the current and voltage are measured on the DC side under normal operating conditions. The efficiency of the converter can be determined by measurement on the AC-side.

The know-how on the different components of the complete photovoltaic system allows to determine losses and efficiency more accurately and to predict and optimize the energy yield of solar panels and systems.