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brief introduc.on to Solar PV

Shan Dwarika
Research: Solar Cells and Photovoltaic
Department of Electrical Engineering:
Mangosuthu University of Technology.

Fundamentals First
The P is the heart of the processing within a
Similarly a solar cell is the key component in the chain
of the Photovoltaic Solar System. The word
Photovoltaic is broken into photo and voltaic. Photo is
associated with light and voltaic means voltage and is
associated with the voltage that develops within the
solar cell. So it is necessary to have an understanding
of the photo physics involved with photons of light and
then build our understanding towards the
func4onality of a typical solar cell.

Photons and the Photoelectric eect.

{to understand the work func4on of
semiconductors materials}.

Energy and Momentum associated

with a Par.cle and Photon.

1. E = KE + PE
2. p = mv
1. Energy, E
2. Momentum, p

1. E = hf
2. p = h/

Energy of a Photon

Einstein proposed that light of frequency f could

be regarded as a collec.on of discrete packets of
energy (photons), each containing an amount of
energy E given by:

E = hf

Where h is Plancks constant.

Conserva4on of Energy Principle

hf = KEmax
+ Wo

Photon Maximum
Energy kine.c energy work needed to
of ejected
eject electron.

KEmax = hf Wo

Principles of Working of a cell.

2 Important steps are involved in the principle of workings
of a solar cell. These are:

Crea.on of pairs of posi.ve and nega.ve charges (electron
hole pairs) in the solar cell by absorbed solar radia.on.
Separa.on of the posi.ve and nega.ve charges by a
poten.al gradient within the cell.

For the rst step to occur the cell must be able to absorb
the energy associated with the photons of light.

Routes of Solar Energy Conversion

Increase in KE and
heat genera.on.

Solar Thermal

Increase in PE and
charge separa.on.


Increase in PE and
charge reac.on


Cross Sec.on of a Solar Cell.

Band Diagram of a silicon Solar Cell

Equivalent Circuit of a Photovoltaic

Solar Cell.

Current - Voltage Characteris.cs and

Power- Voltage Characteris.cs

Ecient Cells and Band Gap Materials.
Op4mum value of Eg.
to have high values of:
For an Ecient cell it is desirable
Fill factor,
Short circuit current, and
Open circuit voltage.
From solid state physics theory, expressions can be derived
for each of these quan..es. The expressions show that
high values of Isc are obtained with low band gap materials.
while high values of Voc and FF are possible with high band
gap materials. Thus if theore.cal values of Nmax are
calculated for dierent values of Eg, it is obvious that a
maximum value would be obtained at some values of Eg.

Op.mal design of solar cells to delivering power with high

{ Isc, Voc and FF} .
For Isc - Band Gap.
band gap - is the Voc and FF of solar cell.

Thus if theore.cal values of Nmax are calculated for
dierent values of Eg, it is obvious that a maximum value
would be obtained at some values of E

Op4mal Opto-Electro Conversion


The maximum conversion eciency of a solar cell
is given by the ra.o of the maximum useful
power to the incident solar radia.on. Thus:

max = ImVm/ITAc
= ((FF)Isc.Voc)/ ITAc

Where IT = incident solar ux and Ac = area of the

Losses experienced in photovoltaic
conversion not now known.


21.6 %
16.9 %
15.2 %
14.7 %

23 %
long wavelength
Photons not
43 %
Of absorbed photon energy converted to heat
28 %
junction loss.
18 %
Curve factor loss
12 %
10 %
Curve factor loss
Series resistance.
reflectance loss
14.2 %
useable power

0.77 Absorbed

0.57 Converted to photo

0.82 Curve factor ImVm/IsVoc
0.78 collection efficiency o
0.9 curve factor
0.97 series resistance
0.97 Reflectance factor.

Typical Solar Cell

A typical cell develops a voltage of 0.5 0.7 V and
a current density of 20 40 mA/cm2.

{Sukhatme et al}

Specica.ons and performance of a

Typical Module
Module Size

119.1 cm x 53.3 cm

Module Weight

7.5 kg

Cell Size

12.5 cm x 12.5 cm

Number of Cells


Nominal Output

80 W

Nominal Voltage

12 V

Maximum voltage

17 V

Open circuit voltage

21.2 V

Short Circuit Current

4.9 A

Conversion Eciency


Global solar radia.on

1000 W/cm2

Air Mass

AM 1.5 spectrum.

Cell temperature


Solar Cell Technologies and Best

Research Eciencies

Commercial Silicone Solar Cell

90 % of the current commercial produc.on of
solar cells is from single crystal and
mul4crystalline silicon only [2]

Electricity Genera.on Eciencies

Module Price per peak wao.

Cost Reduc.on
Cost reduc.on has been achieved by developing
innova4ve manufacturing techniques, which
speed up the produc4on process, reduce
material wastage and yield large size cells. Cost
reduc.on has also been possible because of the
development of thin lm devices which require
much less material and the use of inexpensive
material. A possible approach which could lead
to signicant cost reduc.on in PV conversion
systems is to use concentrators to focus the
sunlight on high eciency solar cells.

Germany Pricing.
The lowest retail price for a mul4crystalline
silicon solar module is $1.06 per waf (0.78
per wao) from a German retailer. The lowest
retail price for a monocrystalline silicon
module is $1.10 per waf (0.81 per wao),
also from a German retailer.

South Africa

Abundance of Solar Radia.on.

Produc.on of Si.
Energy Storage Mechanisms.
Stand Alone or Modular CSP Plants.
Human Capital Development.

Renewable Energy Courses

Principles of Solar Cells and Photovoltaic
Engineering II.
Wind Energy Technology II.
Renewable Energy Systems: Analysis, Design
and Applica4ons III
Project Management in Renewable Energy III.

Other Technology Progression

The last century or so, saw the introduc.on, development
and con.nuous evolu.on of the internal combus4on
engine. It took an appreciable amount of .me and
con.nuous eorts in R&D, to perfect the internal
combus.on engine technology to where it is today. In a
similar stride Computer Technology and Cellular
Technology has gone and con.nues to go through its
technology progression and evolu.on processes.
Renewable Energy Technology: i.e. Solar PV, Wind
Turbine and Biomass are poised to grow strongly in the
coming years.

Quote: Prof Solanki Singh: IIT Mumbai.

Quote: In the annual produc.on graph of solar PV modules, the
worldwide produc.on in 2010 was over 10 000MWp or 10GWp.
This will bring further reduc.on in prices of PV modules. The drop
in PV module prices results in further increase in demand. With the
module prices going around 2$/Wp range, the annual PV module
demand will go several tens of GWp. With this type of growth it is
believed that the average cost of electricity using solar PV module
will start to compete with the cost of grid electricity by
2016-2017. Page 20/21 Dr Solanki Chetan Singh: Professor: IIT
Mumbai, India. Author of Solar Photovoltaic's: Fundamentals,
Technologies and Applica.ons.

Research topics

There are currently many research groups ac.ve in the eld

of photovoltaics in universi.es and research ins.tu.ons

around the world where the primary objec.ves are:
making current technology solar cells cheaper and more
ecient to eec.vely compete with other energy sources;
developing new technologies based on new solar cell
architectural designs; and
developing new materials to serve as light absorbers and
charge carriers.
Fundamental limita.ons of various cell parameters; loss
mechanisms to reduce losses; op.mal design is to achieve
high eciency are also inves.gated.

1. DME 2003a. White paper on the Renewable Energy Policy of the
Republic of South Africa. Department of Minerals and Energy,
2. DME 2003b. Green Power: Business opportuni.es in South Africa
for renewable energy independent power producers 2003. DME
brochure. Page 3.
3. DME 2004. Capacity building in Energy Eciency and Renewable
Energy. Report no. 2. 3. 4. 19. Economic and Financial
Calcula.ons and Modeling for the Renewable Energy Strategy
Formula.on. Department of Minerals and Energy, Pretoria.
4. Solar Photovoltaics: Fundamentals, Technologies and
Applica.ons. By Professor Chetan
Singh Solanki.

. Solar Cells: Opera.ng Principles, Technology and System
Applica.ons, M. Green
6. Applied Photovoltaics (Second Edi.on),
7. Wenham, M.A. Green, M.E. Wao, R. Corkish
8. Silicon Solar Cells: Advanced Principles and Prac.ce, M.A. Green
9. Third Genera.on Photovoltaics Advanced Solar Energy, M.A.
10. Crystalline Silicon Solar Cells - Advanced Surface Passiva.on &
Analysis, A.G. Aberle
11. Speed of Light: The 1996 World Solar Challenge, D.M. Roche,
A.E.T. Schinckel, J.W.V. Storey, C.P. Humphris and M.R.
12 Resources for the Secondary Science Teacher, S. Wenham and R.

Thank You