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In 1839, French scientist Edmond Becquerel discovered that certain materials

would give off sparks of electricity when struck with sunlight. Researchers soon
discovered that this property, called the photoelectric effect, could be harnessed; the
first photovoltaic (PV) cells, made of selenium, were created in the late 1800s. In the
1950s, scientists at Bell Labs revisited the technology and, using silicon, produced PV
cells that could convert four percent of the energy in sunlight directly to electricity.


The most important components of a PV cell are two layers of semiconductor material
commonly composed of silicon crystals. On its own, crystallized silicon is not a very
good conductor of electricity, but when impurities are intentionally addeda process
called dopingthe stage is set for creating an electric current.

The bottom layer of the PV cell is usually doped with boron, which bonds with the
silicon to facilitate a positive charge (P), while the top layer is doped with
phosphorus, which bonds with the silicon to facilitate a negative charge (N).

The surface between the resulting "p-type" and "n-type" semiconductors is called
the P-N junction (see diagram below). Electron movement at this surface produces an
electric field that allows electrons to flow only from the p-type layer to the n-type

When sunlight enters the cell, its energy knocks electrons loose in both layers.
Because of the opposite charges of the layers, the electrons want to flow from the n-
type layer to the p-type layer. But the electric field at the P-N junction prevents this
from happening.
The presence of an external circuit, however, provides the necessary path for
electrons in the n-type layer to travel to the p-type layer. The electrons flowing
through this circuittypically thin wires running along the top of the n-type layer
provide the cell's owner with a supply of electricity.
Most PV systems are based on individual square cells a few inches on a side. Alone,
each cell generates very little power (a few watts), so they are grouped together
as modules or panels.The panels are then either used as separate units or grouped into
larger arrays.
There are three basic types of solar cells:

Single-crystal cells are made in long cylinders and sliced into thin wafers. While this
process is energy-intensive and uses more materials, it produces the highest-efficiency
cells, those able to convert the most incoming sunlight to electricity. Modules made
from single-crystal cells can have efficiencies of up to 23 percent in some laboratory
tests. Single-crystal accounts for a little over one third of the global market for PV.

Polycrystalline cells are made of molten silicon cast into ingots then sliced into
squares. While production costs are lower, the efficiency of the cells is lower too
with top module efficiencies close to 20 percent. Polycrystalline cells make up around
half of the global PV market.

Thin film cells involve spraying or depositing materials (amorphous silicon,

cadmium-telluride, or other) onto glass or metal surfaces in thin films, making the
whole module at one time instead of assembling individual cells. This approach
results in lower efficiencies, but can be lower cost. Thin film cells are around ten
percent of the global PV market .
Historically, most PV panels were used for off-grid purposes, powering homes in
remote locations, cell phone towers, road signs, and water pumps. In recent years,
however, solar power has experienced remarkable growth in the United States and
other countries for applications where the power feeds into the electricity grid. Such
grid-connected PV applications now account for more than 99 percent of the global
solar market.

How solar power is integrated into the electricity grid

The transition to an electricity system with a larger amount of solar power provides
many benefits. The range of technologies, including small-scale distributed solar
(mostly rooftop systems) and large-scale PV systemscome with different
advantages for home owners, businesses, and utilities.

The electricity generated by rooftop solar panels first supplies on-site needs, with the
grid supplying additional electricity as needed. When the home or business generates
more electricity than it consumes, the electricity is fed back into the grid.
One of the biggest benefits that rooftop solar provides to the grid is that it often
produces electricity whenand wherethat power is most valuable. For example, in
many regions demand on the electricity system peaks in the afternoon on hot, sunny
days, when air conditioning use is high and when rooftop solar is performing strongly.
Such systems therefore help utilities meet peak demand without firing up seldom-used
power plants that are both expensive and more polluting than most other options .

Rooftop systems also reduce strain on electricity distribution and transmission

equipment by allowing homes and businesses to first draw power on-site instead of
relying completely on the electricity grid. The benefits are twofold: the use of on-site
power avoids the inefficiencies of transporting electricity over long distances, and on-
site systems potentially allow the utility to postpone expensive upgrades to its

Large-scale solar systems, unlike rooftop solar, feed their electricity directly into the
high-voltage electricity grid and thus have some similarities with the centralized
power plants around which the U.S. electric system evolved.

Large-scale PV, like rooftop systems, has the benefit of often operating at
highest capacity when demand is also the greatest. In addition, the inherently modular
nature of PV technology helps to make PV systems more resilient to extreme
weather than traditional power plants that they replace. Large coal, natural gas, and
nuclear plants are prone to cascading failures when part of a system is damaged. With
large-scale PV, even if a section of a solar project is damaged, most of the system is
likely to continue working.

And while large-scale solar systems depend on transmission lines that may be
affected by extreme weather, the projects themselves are frequently back in service
soon after the events.


Getting to high levels of PV usage is desirable, given all the benefits that solar offers,
but it also presents challenges. Those challenges are not insurmountable, however;
upgrades to technology and updates to how electricity is bought and sold can help
make increasing levels of solar penetration possible.

One challenge for rooftop solar is that having power flowing from customers, instead
of to them, is a relatively new situation for utilities. Neighborhoods where many
homes have adopted solar can approach a point at which the rooftop systems can
produce more than the neighborhood can use during the day. Yet feeder lines that
serve such neighborhoods customers may not be ready to handle flows of electricity
in the opposite direction.

Large-scale PV projects face their own challenges in that they can be located far away
from urban centers, often requiring transmission lines to carry the electricity to where
it will actually be used. This requires investment in building the lines themselves and
results in line losses as some of the energy is converted into heat and lost.

The variability of solar generation associated with PV at both scales presents new
challenges because grid operators cannot control the output of these systems with the
flip of a switch like they can with many non-renewable power plants. The amount of
generation from PV systems depends on the amount of sunshine at any given time.
When clouds block the sun, generation from a solar array can drop suddenly.

Conversely, on particularly sunny days with high amounts of solar on the grid, if the
output from non-renewable energy power plants is not reduced to allow for the solar
generation, electricity supplies could exceed demand. Both situations can lead to
instability on the grid.

But the issues associated with adding more PV to the grid are eminently solvable.
Fixes to the transmission and feeder issues are largely economic, not technical. And
variability challenges are well understood in part because grid operators already
manage fluctuations caused by constantly changing electricity demand and drops in
electricity supplies when large power plants or transmission lines unexpectedly fail.

Much of the variability inherent in solar generation is also predictable and

manageable, and can be handled in several ways including:

Using better forecasting tools to allow for more accurate predictions of when solar
generation might decline

Installing solar across a large geographic area to minimize any impact of generation
variability due to local cloud cover

Shifting electricity supply and storing excess energy for later use

Shifting electricity demand by encouraging customers to use electricity when it is

more readily available

Collaborating with neighboring regions to expand electricity import/export

capabilities and share resources
Overall, renewable energy sources including solar help to stabilize and make the U.S.
electricity system more resilient, both economically and environmentally.

A battery is an electrochemical cell (or enclosed and protected material) that can be
charged electrically to provide a static potential for power or released electrical charge
when needed.

A battery generally consists of an anode, acathode, and an electrolyte.

Common types of commercial batteries and some of their characteristics and

advantages are summarized in the following table. Battery types not shown include
the Zinc-Air, Flooded Lead Acid, and Alkaline batteries.

ry Characteristics Typical Uses

Seale Can hold a Backup Inexpensi

d charge for up to emergency ve

Lead 3 years power source




Nickel Fast, even Appliances, Relatively

- energy discharge audio and inexpensi

Cadm video ve;

ium equipment, widely

(Ni- toys; most available

Cd) popular batter


Nickel Typical power Portable No

- capacity i1.2 V - computers;cell memory

Metal 1200 to 1500 ular phones; effect;

Hydri mAh; extended same as for unused

de life 2300 mAh; Ni-Cd batteries capacity

(Ni- 2.5 to 4 hours remains

MH) battery life usable



Lithiu Stable and safe; Portable Twice the

m Ion highest energy computers; charge

(Li- capacity cellular capacity

Ion) phones; same of Ni-Cd;

batte as for Ni-Cd slow self-

ry batteries discharge


Nickel Cadmium (NiCd) mature and well understood but relatively low in energy
density. The NiCd is used where long life, high discharge rate and economical price
are important. Main applications are two-way radios, biomedical equipment,
professional video cameras and power tools. The NiCd contains toxic metals and is
environmentally unfriendly.
Nickel-Metal Hydride (NiMH) has a higher energy density compared to the NiCd
at the expense of reduced cycle life. NiMH contains no toxic metals. Applications
include mobile phones and laptop computers.
Lead Acid most economical for larger power applications where weight is of little
concern. The lead acid battery is the preferred choice for hospital equipment,
wheelchairs, emergency lighting and UPS systems.
Lithium Ion (Li-ion) fastest growing battery system. Li-ion is used where high-
energy density and lightweight is of prime importance. The technology is fragile and a
protection circuit is required to assure safety. Applications include notebook
computers and cellular phones.
Lithium Ion Polymer (Li-ion polymer) offers the attributes of the Li-ion in ultra-
slim geometry and simplified packaging. Main applications are mobile phones.
Figure 1 compares the characteristics of the six most commonly used rechargeable
battery systems in terms of energy density, cycle life, exercise requirements and cost.
The figures are based on average ratings of commercially available batteries at the
time of publication.

NiC Ni Le L Li- Reus

d M ad i- ion able
H Ac i poly Alkal
id o mer ine

Gravimetric 45- 60- 30- 1 100- 80

Energy 80 12 50 1 130 (initial
Density(Wh/kg) 0 0- )

Internal 100 20 <10 1 200 200 to

Resistance to 0 0 1
5 to 20001
(includes 2001 to 12 0 3001 6V
peripheral 6V 30 V to 7.2V pack
circuits) in m pack 0 pac 2 pack
6V k 5
pac 01
k 7.
NiC Ni Le L Li- Reus
d M ad i- ion able
H Ac i poly Alkal
id o mer ine


Cycle Life (to 150 30 200 5 300 503

80% of initial 02 0 to 0 to (to
capacity) to 300 0 500 50%)
50 to
0 1

Fast Charge 1h 2- 8- 2- 2-4h 2-3h

Time typic 4h 16h 4
al h

Overcharge mod low hig v low moder

Tolerance erat h er ate
e y

Self- 20% 30 5% 1 ~10 0.3%

discharge / 4
% 4
0 % 5

Month (room %

Cell 1.25 1.2 2V 3. 3.6V 1.5V

Voltage(nomina V6 5V6 6
l) V

Load Current
- peak 20C 5C 5C7 > >2C 0.5C
- best result 1C 0.5 2 1C 0.2C
C 0.2 C or or
or C 1 lower lower
low C
er or
NiC Ni Le L Li- Reus
d M ad i- ion able
H Ac i poly Alkal
id o mer ine
Operating -40 -20 -20 - 0 to 0 to
Temperature( to to to 2 60C 65C
discharge only) 60 60 60 0
C C C to


Maintenance 30 60 3 to n not not

Requirement to to 6 ot req. req.
60 d 90 mo re
ays day nth q.
s s

Typical $50 $6 $25 $ $100 $5

Battery Cost (7.2 0 (6V 1 (7.2V (9V)
(US$, reference V) (7. ) 0 )
only) 2V) 0

Cost per $0.0 $0. $0. $ $0.2 $0.10-

Cycle(US$) 11
4 12 10 0. 9 0.50

Commercial 195 19 197 1 1999 1992

use since 0 90 0 9


MPPT stands for Maximum Power Point Tracking charge controller. If you have a
basic technical knowledge of solar power charge controllers, you can deduce from the
name alone that this MPPT charge controller will likely increase the productivity of
your Solar panel. It sure does, in other words, it is more efficient than the otherPWM
solar charge controller.
You may as well mistake this to mean that this type of solar charge controller has a
way of moving the installed Solar panels around to track the position of the sun at any
time, no! The MMPT Solar charge controller as we shall see is just a charge controller
that uses digital technology to maximize the power output from the solar panel that
will best charge your battery.

But this article isnt about PWM solar charge controllers so I shall not talk much
about it. For the records, PWM solar charge controllers have its own merits that will
make it to remain relevant, also its got more intelligent than way the technology was
first invented.
Now, I am going to show you how this MPPT Solar charge controller works and what
makes it different from the non-MPPT charge controller or especially PWM charge
controller. You dont need to have a technical background to grab the most important
part of this information. I will try as much as possible to break it down for everyone to
follow up.

How an MPPT Solar charge controller works

A non-MPPT solar charge controller will charge your discharged batteries with the
power coming straight from your PV module or solar panels. This, as I shall show you
only means that the Solar panels which generates the electricity will only try to adjust
itself ( the amount of currents it feeds in) to the voltage level of your battery.

Now generally, a battery rated 12V has a varying voltage from 11V up to 14.5V when
fully charged. The discharging of a battery when connected to a load or while your
appliances are running on it, means the battery voltage will constantly go down. To
charge any battery with a Solar panel, the Voltage from the solar panel must be more
than the maximum voltage the battery can get, in this case 14.5V for a 12V battery.
On the other hand, every Solar panel has its Maximum Power Point or the peak
power voltage it can produce also known as the Vpp. So this PV (solar panel) Vpp
must be greater than the maximum voltage of the battery it wants to charge (14.5V).
Because of this most Solar panel manufacturers design their solar panels to give an
output maximum voltage (Vpp) of up to 17V. In reality, this Vpp of about 17V will
vary due to the varying temperature of the day. So because the solar panels Vpp is as
high as 17V, it will drop to as low as 15V on a very hot day which is still greater than
the maximum output voltage of 14.5V most 12V can produce at peak.
What really is the advantage of using an MPPT charge controller?
At this point you will wonder what makes an MPPT charge controller different, in
other words what makes it more efficient than the PWM charge controllers. I shall
proceed to tell you the working principle of MPPT charge controllers that makes it
perform better than PWM charge controllers.

The power output of any solar panel (in Watts) is calculated by multiplying the rated
Voltage of the panel by the output current. i.e:
Power = Voltage X Current. This is also referred to as the Ohms Law.
Because the output voltage from your Solar panel varies with the days temperature
and solar radiation, the MPPT charge controller ensures that you get the most
possible power from your PV array (solar panel) at anypoint in time.
For example, assuming the voltage coming from the PV array is much higher than
your discharged batterys voltage, the MPPT charge controller can increase/reduce the
output voltage and increase the output current needed to charge the battery. Since
Power is equal to Voltage X Current, this will still balance the system and produce
about the same power.
So the MPPT charge controllers are digital trackers. It is intelligent and smart enough
to compare the power output (Voltage X Current) of your Solar panels with the
discharge level of your battery and the optimal current needed to charge it.
Since Power = Voltage X Current, the MPPT charge controller can increase the
current and reduce the voltage of your solar panels in order to charge your discharged
batteries faster, and vice versa.
This is why MPPT Solar charge controllers are considered more efficient than the
other types.


The input to the circuit is applied from the regulated power supply. The a.c. input i.e.,
230V from the mains supply is step down by the transformer to 12V and is fed to a
rectifier. The output obtained from the rectifier is a pulsating d.c voltage. So in order
to get a pure d.c voltage, the output voltage from the rectifier is fed to a filter to
remove any a.c components present even after rectification. Now, this voltage is given
to a voltage regulator to obtain a pure constant dc voltage.

230V AC
50Hz Output

Step down Bridge

transformer Rectifier

Fig: Power supply


Usually, DC voltages are required to operate various electronic equipment and these
voltages are 5V, 9V or 12V. But these voltages cannot be obtained directly. Thus the
a.c input available at the mains supply i.e., 230V is to be brought down to the required
voltage level. This is done by a transformer. Thus, a step down transformer is
employed to decrease the voltage to a required level.


The output from the transformer is fed to the rectifier. It converts A.C. into pulsating
D.C. The rectifier may be a half wave or a full wave rectifier. In this project, a bridge
rectifier is used because of its merits like good stability and full wave rectification.


Capacitive filter is used in this project. It removes the ripples from the output of
rectifier and smoothens the D.C. Output received from this filter is constant until the
mains voltage and load is maintained constant. However, if either of the two is varied,
D.C. voltage received at this point changes. Therefore a regulator is applied at the
output stage.

Voltage regulator:

As the name itself implies, it regulates the input applied to it. A voltage
regulator is an electrical regulator designed to automatically maintain a constant
voltage level. In this project, power supply of 5V and 12V are required. In order to
obtain these voltage levels, 7805 and 7812 voltage regulators are to be used. The first
number 78 represents positive supply and the numbers 05, 12 represent the required
output voltage levels.A variable regulated power supply, also called a variable bench
power supply, is one where you can continuously adjust the output voltage to your
requirements. Varying the output of the power supply is the recommended way to test
a project after having double checked parts placement against circuit drawings and the
parts placement guide.

This type of regulation is ideal for having a simple variable bench power supply.
Actually this is quite important because one of the first projects a hobbyist should
undertake is the construction of a variable regulated power supply. While a dedicated
supply is quite handy e.g. 5V or 12V, it's much handier to have a variable supply on
hand, especially for testing.

The LM7805 is simple to use. You simply connect the positive lead of your
unregulated DC power supply (anything from 9VDC to 24VDC) to the Input pin,
connect the negative lead to the Common pin and then when you turn on the power,
you get a 5 volt supply from the Output pin.

Fig : Power Supply Circuit Diagram

This 5V dc acts as Vcc to the microcontroller. The excess voltage is dissipated as heat
via an Aluminum heat sink attached to the voltage regulator.

Bridge Rectifier:
A diode bridge is an arrangement of four diodes connected in a bridge circuit as
shown below, that provides the same polarity of output voltage for any polarity of the
input voltage. When used in its most common application, for conversion of
alternating current (AC) input into direct current (DC) output, it is known as a bridge
rectifier. The diagram describes a diode-bridge design known as a full-wave rectifier.
This design can be used to rectify single phase AC when no transformer center tap is

A bridge rectifier makes use of four diodes in a bridge arrangement to achieve full-
wave rectification. This is a widely used configuration, both with individual diodes
wired as shown and with single component bridges where the diode bridge is wired

Typical Bridge Rectifier

For both positive and negative swings of the transformer, there is a Forward path
through the diode bridge. Both conduction paths cause Current to flow in the same
direction through the load resistor, accomplishing full-wave rectification. While one
set of diodes is forward biased, the other set is reverse biased and effectively
eliminated from the circuit.

Current Flow in the Bridge Rectifier

Current in Bridge Rectifier for +ve half cycle

Current in Bridge Rectifier for -ve half cycle


3-Terminal 1A Positive Voltage Regulator


Output Current up to 1A

Thermal Overload Protection

Short Circuit Protection

Output Transistor Safe Operating Area Protection


The MC7805 three terminal positive regulators are available in the TO-220/D-PAK
package and with several fixed output voltages, making them useful in a wide range
of applications. Each type employs internal current limiting, thermal shut down and
safe operating area protection, making it essentially indestructible. If adequate heat
sinking is provided, they can deliver over 1A output current. Although designed
primarily as fixed voltage regulators, these devices can be used with external
components to obtain adjustable voltages and currents.

Concentrating Solar Power (CSP): Concentrating solar power (CSP) plants are
utility-scale generators that produce electricity using mirrors or lenses to efficiently
concentrate the suns energy. The four principal CSP technologies are parabolic
troughs, dish-Stirling engine systems, central receivers, and concentrating
photovoltaic systems (CPV).

Solar Thermal Electric Power Plants: Solar thermal energy involves harnessing
solar power for practical applications from solar heating to electrical power
generation. Solar thermal collectors, such as solar hot water panels, are commonly
used to generate solar hot water for domestic and light industrial applications. This
energy system is also used in architecture and building design to control heating and
ventilation in both active solar and passive solar designs.

Photovoltaics: Photovoltaic or PV technology employs solar cells or solar

photovoltaic arrays to convert energy from the sun into electricity. Solar cells produce
direct current electricity from the suns rays, which can be used to power equipment
or to recharge batteries. Many pocket calculators incorporate a single solar cell, but
for larger applications, cells are generally grouped together to form PV modules that
are in turn arranged in solar arrays. Solar arrays can be used to power orbiting
satellites and other spacecraft, and in remote areas as a source of power for roadside
emergency telephones, remote sensing, and cathodic protection of pipelines.

Solar Heating Systems: Solar hot water systems use sunlight to heat water. The
systems are composed of solar thermal collectors and a storage tank, and they may be
active, passive or batch systems.
Passive Solar Energy: It concerns building design to maintain its environment at a
comfortable temperature through the suns daily and annual cycles. It can be done
by (1) Direct gain or the positioning of windows, skylights, and shutters to control the
amount of direct solar radiation reaching the interior and warming the air and surfaces
within a building; (2) Indirect gain in which solar radiation is captured by a part of the
building envelope and then transmitted indirectly to the building through conduction
and convection; and (3) Isolated gain which involves passively capturing solar heat
and then moving it passively into or out of the building via a liquid or air directly or
using a thermal store. Sunspaces, greenhouses, and solar closets are alternative ways
of capturing isolated heat gain from which warmed air can be taken.

Solar Lighting: Also known as daylighting, this is the use of natural light to provide
illumination to offset energy use in electric lighting systems and reduce the cooling
load on HVAC systems. Daylighting features include building orientation, window
orientation, exterior shading, saw tooth roofs, clerestory windows, light shelves,
skylights, and light tubes. Architectural trends increasingly recognize daylighting as a
cornerstone of sustainable design.

Solar Cars: A solar car is an electric vehicle powered by energy obtained from solar
panels on the surface of the car which convert the suns energy directly into electrical
energy. Solar cars are not currently a practical form of transportation. Although they
can operate for limited distances without sun, the solar cells are generally very fragile.
Development teams have focused their efforts on optimizing the efficiency of the
vehicle, but many have only enough room for one or two people.

Solar Power Satellite: A solar power satellite (SPS) is a proposed satellite built in
high Earth orbit that uses microwave power transmission to beam solar power to a
very large antenna on Earth where it can be used in place of conventional power
sources. The advantage of placing the solar collectors in space is the unobstructed
view of the sun, unaffected by the day/night cycle, weather, or seasons. However, the
costs of construction are very high, and SPSs will not be able to compete with
conventional sources unless low launch costs can be achieved or unless a space-based
manufacturing industry develops and they can be built in orbit from off-earth
Solar Updraft Tower: A solar updraft tower is a proposed type of renewable-energy
power plant. Air is heated in a very large circular greenhouse-like structure, and the
resulting convection causes the air to rise and escape through a tall tower. The moving
air drives turbines, which produce electricity. There are no solar updraft towers in
operation at present. A research prototype operated in Spain in the 1980s, and
EnviroMission is proposing to construct a full-scale power station using this
technology in Australia.

Renewable Solar Power Systems with Regenerative Fuel Cell Systems: NASA has
long recognized the unique advantages of regenerative fuel cell (RFC) systems to
provide energy storage for solar power systems in space. RFC systems are uniquely
qualified to provide the necessary energy storage for solar surface power systems on
the moon or Mars during long periods of darkness, i.e. during the 14-day lunar night
or the12-hour Martian night. The nature of the RFC and its inherent design flexibility
enables it to effectively meet the requirements of space missions. And in the course of
implementing the NASA RFC Program, researchers recognized that there are
numerous applications in government, industry, transportation, and the military for
RFC systems as well.


Solar energy is a resource that is not only sustainable for energy consumption; it is
indefinitely renewable (at least until the sun runs out in billions of years). Solar power
can be used to generate electricity; it is also used in relatively simple technology to
heat water (solar water heaters). The use of skylights in home construction can also
greatly reduce energy expenditure required to light rooms in a homes interior during
the day.

Solar panels also require little maintenance. After installation and optimization they
are very reliable due to the fact that they actively create electricity in just a few
millimeters and do not require any type of mechanical parts that can fail. Solar panels
are also a silent producer of energy, a necessity if dealing with picky neighbors. The
federal government has also introduced generous tax credits for individuals and
companies that invest in solar and other clean energy systems.


The primary disadvantage of solar power is that it obviously cannot be created

during the night. The power generated is also reduced during times of cloud cover
(although energy is still produced on a cloudy day). Solar panel energy output is
maximized when the panel is directly facing the sun. This means that panels in a fixed
location, such as the building above, will see a reduced energy production when the
sun is not at an optimal angle. Many large scale solar "farms" combat this problem by
having the panels on towers (above left) that can track the sun to keep the panel at
optimal angles throughout the day.

Even todays most efficient solar cells only convert just over 20% of the suns
rays to electricity. With increased advances in solar cell technology this number is
likely to increase. Besides their low conversion efficiency, solar panels can be a
substantial initial investment. However, the cost of solar panels incurred is only the
initial cost, after buying and installation they create free energy for use.