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An Introduction to Solar Photovoltaic Systems

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Craig Richards

on 21 May 2014

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Transcript of An Introduction to Solar Photovoltaic Systems

An Introduction to Solar Photovoltaic Systems
How does solar PV work?
When light strikes a material an electric current is produced i.e. an electron is released and is pushed in a certain direction

This video explains things better:
Solar photovoltaics - A brief history
The photovoltaic (PV) effect was first observed in 1839 by French physicist Edmond Becquerel

The first practical application of a working PV cell was demonstrated in the 1950’s at Bell Laboratories
The rise of solar photovoltaics
The efficiency of solar cells has continued to improved with single junction silicon cells reaching efficiencies of 25.6%

Concentrated multi-junction cells have reached efficiencies of 44.4%

The increase in efficiency has come with a rapid decrease is cost
Sea World Education Centre, 21st May 2014

How does solar PV work?
A PV cell will always produce Direct Current (DC) current and as most appliances use Alternating Current (AC)

An inverter is required to convert DC to AC

Understanding the sun
In a PV system, sunlight is the "fuel" and therefore understanding it's properties is extremely important

In Durban, on average we have on average 4,500 kWh of solar energy available per day i.e. 4.5 sunlight hours per day
Components of a PV system
Typically solar PV systems are either off-grid or grid connected

Off-grid systems allow independence from the grid, however require battery backup which adds to the cost

A grid tied system costs less as the grid acts as a backup and excess electricity can be fed back into the grid
Off-Grid System
Grid Tied System
Types of PV Cells
Crystalline PV Cells
Constructed from Silicon

There are two types:
Polycrystalline - made of many silicon crystals
Monocrystalline - made up one silicon crystal

Thin Film PV Cells
Thin films cells have not reached the efficiencies of crystalline cells, however cost potential is very good

Use less material than a crystalline cell

Thin film cells can be constructed from amorphous Silicon, Cadmium Telleride (CdTe) and Copper Indium Galium Diselenide (CIGS)

There are a number of different types of solar cells, however, the three most common types are:
Thin Film
Multi-junction cells
Cells are made up materials of different properties (bandgaps)

eThekwini Hazelmere CPV Project makes use of multi-junction cells
Sizing a solar PV system
Sizing a system is not as hard as one might think

A PV panel will output on average it's peak capacity x no. of sunlight hours of the location where it is installed

Remember the 4.5 sunlights hours for Durban

Therefore a 100 Wp panel will on average produce 450 Wh per day in Durban
Sizing a solar PV system
Steps to sizing your PV system
1. Understand the solar resources available (i.e. sunlight hours)

2. Understand the electrical load that needs to be met (this is the number of kWh that the PV system needs to produce)

3. Divide the electrical load by the no. of sunlight hours - this will give you the size of the array required
Costing a solar system
Typically a grid tied system will cost about R 30/ Wp

An off-grid system will cost between R 35-R40 / Wp

Understanding the load
A small office has the following appliance
A kettle is rated 2000W which runs for a 1/4 of an hour a day
An LED light rated at 10W which is on 5 hours per day
A TV rated at 50W which is on two hours per day

Tota load (kWh) = 2000(0.15) + 10(5) + 50(2) = 450kWh

Therefore array size = 450 / 4.5 = 100Wp = 1 x 100 W panel

DIY Solar Projects
DIY Solar Cell Phone Charger:


General DIY Projects:


Thank You
Any Questions???
You can contact me:
Craig Richards
Energy Office - eThekwini Municipality
031 311 4509
Cells, panels, arrays
Some of South Africa's PV Project
South Africa aims to have 17,800 MW of PV installed by 2030
Full transcript