Enhancing Performance of Building Integrated Concentrating Photovoltaic systems
Date: 4 February 2015
University of Exeter
PhD in Renewable Energy
Buildings both commercial and residential are the largest consumers of electricity. Integrating Photovoltaic technology in building architecture or Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) provides an effective means for meeting this huge energy demands and provides an energy hub at the place of its immediate requirement. However, this ...
Buildings both commercial and residential are the largest consumers of electricity. Integrating Photovoltaic technology in building architecture or Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) provides an effective means for meeting this huge energy demands and provides an energy hub at the place of its immediate requirement. However, this technology is challenged with problems like low efficiency and high cost. An effective way of improving the solar cell efficiency and reducing the cost of photovoltaic systems is either by reducing solar cell manufacturing cost or illuminating the solar cells with a higher light intensity than is naturally available by the use of optical concentrators which is also known as Concentrating Photovoltaic (CPV) technology. Integrating this technology in the architecture is referred as Building integrated Concentrating Photovoltaics (BICPV). This thesis presents a detailed performance analysis of different designs used as BICPV systems and proposes further advancements necessary for improving the system design and minimizing losses. The systems under study include a Dielectric Asymmetric Compound Parabolic Concentrator (DiACPC) designed for 2.8×, a three-dimensional Cross compound parabolic concentrator (3DCCPC) designed for 3.6× and a Square Elliptical Hyperbolic (SEH) concentrator designed for 6×. A detailed analysis procedure is presented showcasing the optical, electrical, thermal and overall analysis of these systems. A particular issue for CPV technology is the non-uniformity of the incident flux which tends to cause hot spots, current mismatch and reduce the overall efficiency of the system. Emphasis is placed on modelling the effects of non-uniformity while evaluating the performance of these systems. The optical analysis of the concentrators is carried out using ray tracing and finite element methods are employed to determine electrical and thermal performance of the system. Based on the optical analysis, the outgoing flux from the concentrators is predicted for different incident angles for each of the concentrators. A finite element model for the solar cell was developed to evaluate its electrical performance using the outputs obtained from the optical analysis. The model can also be applied for the optimization of the front grid pattern of Si Solar cells. The model is further coupled within the thermal analysis of the system, where the temperature of the solar cell is predicted under operating conditions and used to evaluate the overall performance under steady state conditions. During the analysis of the DiACPC it was found that the maximum cell temperature reached was 349.5 K under an incident solar radiation of 1000 W/m2. Results from the study carried on the 3DCCPC showed that a maximum cell temperature of 332 K is reached under normal incidence, this tends to bring down the overall power production by 14.6%. In the case of the SEH based system a maximum temperature of 319 K was observed on the solar cell surface under normal incidence. An average drop of 11.7% was found making the effective power ratio of the system 3.4. The non-uniformity introduced due to the concentrator profile causes hotspots in the BICPV system. The non-uniformity was found to reduce the efficiency of the solar cell in the range of 0.5-1 % in all the three studies. The overall performance can be improved by addressing losses occurring within different components of the system. It was found that optical losses occurred at the interface region formed due to the encapsulant spillage along the edges of the concentrator. Using a reflective film along the edge of the concentrating element was found to improve the optical efficiency of the system. Case studies highlighting the improvement are presented. A reflective film was attached along the interface region of the concentrator and the encapsulant. In the case of a DiACPC, an increase of 6% could be seen in the overall power production. Similar case study was performed for a 3DCCPC and a maximum of 6.7% was seen in the power output. To further improve the system performance a new design incorporating conjugate reflective-refractive device was evaluated. The device benefits from high optical efficiency due to the reflection and greater acceptance angle due to refraction. Finally, recommendations are made for development of a new generation of designs to be used in BiCPV applications. Efforts are made towards improving the overall performance and reducing the non-uniformity of the concentrated illumination.
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