Optimising the output power available from a photovoltaic panel through empirical testing

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Osamede, Asowata
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Einstein said, ‘‘the release of energy has not created a new problem, but has made more urgent the necessity of solving an existing one’’. This dissertation presents a method of optimising the available output power from a photovoltaic (PV) panel through empirical testing as this will enable a higher yield of solar energy thereby reducing dependence on traditional energy sources such as fossil fuels. The proposed study intends using existing equations of latitude, mathematical models and simulation packages in combination with the experimental data to analyse the optimum tilt and orientation angles for PV panels. This will assist in identifying ways to improve the installation of PV panels for optimum output power in the Vaal Triangle. Photovoltaic panels are semiconductor devices that convert incident direct beam radiation to electrical energy and the panel is composed of several unitary cells connected in series and/or in parallel. The optimisation process involves the empirical testing of the entire system with the use of existing equations of latitude as suggested by literature for PV installation in the southern hemisphere, power conditioning devices (such as an DC-DC converter, solar charger with MPPT) in order to validate results as well as the correlation of empirical results with a simulation package. The first objective was to have an overview of the types of PV panels that exist; this was done in order to be able to make a right choice of PV panel to be used in this research. A concise literature review was carried to enable this research to have a background of existing information in the areas of optimisation of power from PV panels. The next objective was to carry out a pilot study, this was done to form the foundation for the main study. A data-logging interface circuit (DLIC) was incorporated in the system for some reasons presented in subsequent chapters of this dissertation. At the end of this study data were taken over a two year period, the data were analysed and conclusions were drawn and some recommendation in optimising available output power from a PV panel are suggested.
M. Tech. (Department of Electronic Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Technology) -- Vaal University of Technology
Photovoltaic panels, Solar energy, Photovoltaic panels installation