ELEN 282: Photovoltaic Devices and Systems

Tim Healy, Santa Clara University

This course focuses on the use of photovoltaic solar cells to produce electric power. The contents of the course include the physics of the sun, the problem of what happens to the sun's energy when it reaches the earth, the physics of solar cells, circuit models of cells, solar panels, components of a complete solar power system, layout of systems, and the economics of such systems. Prerequisite: Introduction to electric circuits. Senior undergraduate or graduate standing in engineering will be sufficient. It is designed particularly for students from any engineering or science field.

Instructor: Tim Healy
                    Room EC 212

Time: Tuesday: 7:10-9 AM. Fall Term, 2009

Text: G. M. Masters, Renewable and Efficient Electric Power Systems, Wiley Interscience, Hoboken, NJ, 2004

Grading: Homework          100
                 Midterm              100
                 Final                    100

Lecture 1: Review of Electric Circuits and Power Systems (topics from pp. 1 - 98)

Review of electric circuits, DC and AC. Current, voltage, power. Transformers. Power electronics. Electric power systems of the 20th Century. Changes to come in the 21st Century. Just a bit about smart grids.


Lecture 2: The Sun as a Source of Energy (pp. 385 - 439)

The sun as a source of energy. Electromagnetic waves and James Clerk Maxwell. Blackbody radiation. The solar spectrum. Photons and Max Planck. How he managed to save us - reluctantly - from the ultraviolet catastrophe.


Lecture 3: The Sun's Energy on Earth

Isotropic radiation from the sun. The sun-earth relation. The earth's orbit. Effects of the atmosphere. Direct, diffuse and reflected radiation. Locating the sun. Irradiance and insolation. Solar radiation measurements. Reading a daily irradiance chart. (As on the right.)


Lecture 4: Photovoltaic Materials (445 - 463)

Charges and electric fields. Semiconductor physics. P-N junctions. PV cells. The significance of the solar spectrum to the reaction of the PV cell. I-V characteristics.


Lecture 5: Modeling the PV Cell (464 - 501)

Models of the cell. Effect of shading on the model. Modules of cells. Arrays of modules. Load lines. Maximum power point. Temperature effects. Shading physics. PV fabrication approaches.


Lecture 6: PV System Types (505 - 534)

On-grid and off-grid systems. Load curves for resistors, DC motors, batteries. Maximum power point trackers. Interfacing with the utility. Peak hour approach to estimating performance.


Lecture 7: Grid-Connected Sizing and Economics (534 - 550)

Getting the job done. Sizing the system. Current and voltage ratings. Economics of grid-connected systems. Cost per watt. Amortizing costs.


Lecture 8: Stand-Alone (Off-Grid) Systems (550 - 568)

Solar power for mountain cabins and sailing ships. Components and structure of the system. Estimating the load. Inverters and Battereies.


Lecture 9: Sizing the System (568 584)

Energy storage. Battery sizing. Blocking diodes. Sizing the PV array. Off-grid and on-grid system design summary.


Lecture 10: Example: PV-Powered Water Pumping (584 - 595)

Putting all of the pieces together to accomplish a task. The energy transition path: photonic-photovoltaic-electrical-mechanical-hydraulic. Hydraulic systems and hydraulic pump curves. Sizing the system.