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Wood Mackenzie says solar is the cheapest way to add electricity in many markets — expects a 25% cost drop this decade

MSE 5490/EE 5490: Solar Photovoltaic Science and Engineering

(Spring 2021): | 930-1045am | TR | Kanwal and Ann Rekhi Hall G006, M&M607 online | Jan 11, - Apr 23, 2021 |Instructor: User:J.M.Pearce Contact via email, office hours by appointment in M&M or skype

Course Overview

Solar photovoltaic materials, the device physics of photovoltaic cells and practical applications of solar electric systems engineering.

Detailed Description

This course provides a graduate level introduction to solar photovoltaic materials, the device physics of photovoltaic cells, and practical solar electric systems engineering applications. First this course will focus on semiconductor materials for photovoltaic devices, including effects of microstructure, band theory, opto-electronics, and charge transport. Then the device physics of solar photovoltaic cells will be reviewed including semiconductor junctions, principles of operation, structures, fabrication, and manufacturing of conventional, thin film, dye sensitized, and other “3rd generation” solar cells. Solar photovoltaic systems engineering will be covered in detail - including topics of: the solar resource, systems modeling/software, power conditioning equipment and system integration techniques, mechanical elements (frames, supports, orientation mechanisms, and tracking), and energy storage. Finally, solar energy systems engineering economics will be reviewed along with solar energy policy including implications of high solar penetration levels and a shift to distributed generation.

The course is meant for graduate students in Materials Science & Engineering, and Electrical & Computer Engineering, while graduate students in other areas of engineering or physics with a strong interest in this topic are also welcomed.

Credits: 3.0 Lec-Rec-Lab: (3-0-[0-3]), (3 lecture hours and 0-3 lab hours)

Required Course Material

Handouts in class, on-line reading, and emailed pdfs. See hyperlinks in schedule.

Course Organization

This course will be run as an intense seminar meeting as a group. Students will be expected to read the course material before class and actively participate in discussions. Each student will be responsible for a presentation on their topic in front of the group at the end of the semester.

Course Learning Objectives

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  1. demonstrate a fundamental understanding of band theory and the impact of microstructure on the properties of the major classes of PV materials
  2. design PV devices using semiconductor properties
  3. assess and evaluate the operation of all major classes of PV devices
  4. utilize open source software to model a PV system
  5. evaluate the technical, economic and environmental life cycle of a PV system


Letter Grade Percentage Grade points/credit Rating
A 93% & above 4.00 Excellent
AB 88%– 92% 3.50 Very good
B 82% – 86% 3.00 Good
BC 76%– 81% 2.50 Above average
C 70% – 75% 2.00 Average
CD 65%– 69% 1.50 Below average
D 60%- 64% 1.00 Inferior
F 59% and below 0.00 Failure
I Incomplete; given only when a student is unable to complete a segment of the course because of circumstances beyond the student’s control. A grade of incomplete may be given only when approved in writing by the department chair or school dean.
X Conditional,with no grade points per credit; given only when the student is at fault in failing to complete a minor segment of a course, but in the judgment of the instructor does not need to repeat the course. It must be made up within the next semester in residence or the grade becomes a failure (F). A (X) grade is computed into the grade point average as a (F) grade.

Grading Policy

Grades will be based on the following:

Homework- Gates 300
Photovoltaic Project 500
Photovoltaic Presentation 200
Total Points 1000
Gate 1
Item Points
User page in Category 15
Photograph/bio 10
Lit review in Category 25
Proper format 25
Completeness 25
Total 100
  • Gate 2: Outline, Journal, Reviewers, (1 page, journal(s), 5 reviewers (name, org, email, why them)
  • Gate 3: Methods
Grading Rubric for Presentations

CONTENT: ____/50

  • Topic covered thoroughly
  • Enough information given to understand topic
  • The presentation was interesting

KNOWLEDGE : ___/30

  • Shows an understanding of the material
  • Technically competent
  • Able to answer questions
  • Additional comments:

DESIGN: ___/10

  • Very creative
  • Easy to see and follow
  • Aesthetically Appealing
  • Did not go over time limit

References: ___ /5

  • Presentation was annotated –refs in footnotes
  • Complete literature search was apparent
  • Could be reproduced

Presentation emailed on time: ____/5

TOTAL ________ /100

Grading Rubric for Papers
  • A - Ready to be submitted for peer review
  • AB - Ready to submit for peer review after minor adjustments and minor revision
  • B - Able to be submitted for peer review after a cycle of major revision
  • BC - Able to be submitted for peer review after two major revisions
  • C - Useful baseline for future work but not acceptable for submission without redoing project
  • CD - Only marginally useful to field in any respect and followed directions
  • D - Not useful but followed directions
  • F - Not useful, did not follow directions, major errors or inaccuracies, incomplete

Late Assignments

Deduct 10% per day, up to 5 working days, then 0 grade. Only exception is for documented illness. Missed projects are penalized by the negative square of the percent total.

Course Policies

Appropriate behavior, attendance, participation and collaboration with your peers on group assignments is expected. Collaboration/Plagiarism Rules Collaboration is encouraged on the group project but the individual project and exams must be completed alone. Calculators are allowed for exams but electronic communication devices are prohibited.

University Policies

Academic regulations and procedures are governed by University policy. Academic dishonesty cases will be handled in accordance the University's policies. If you have a disability that could affect your performance in this class or that requires an accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act, please see me as soon as possible so that we can make appropriate arrangements. The Affirmative Action Office has asked that you be made aware of the following: Michigan Technological University complies with all federal and state laws and regulations regarding discrimination, including the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. If you have a disability and need a reasonable accommodation for equal access to education or services at Michigan Tech, please call the Dean of Students Office at 487-2212. For other concerns about discrimination, you may contact your advisor, Chair/Dean of your academic unit, or the Affirmative Programs Office at 487-3310.

Course Schedule

Please Note: Dates will be updated soon. Readings will be updated periodically before we get to the module.

Date Topic To Do
01/12 Intro, Advanced Topics Intro Choose project, Proposals Due (Mandatory) -via email by midnight
01/14 OS Research, Using Appropedia Appropedia tutorial from class, OS research presentation
01/19 Lit. Review, Zotero, Lit review presentation 1. Userpage Due, details on project
01/21 Materials 1, 2; PV jobs Lit Rev. 10
01/26 Paper writing, Materials 3, Paper writing vid Lit Rev. 20
01/28 Materials 3,4, Journals Lit Rev. 30
02/02 Outline File:MOST-outline.odt, Reviewers, Materials 5 Lit Rev. 40
02/04 No Class Winter Carnival '
02/9 Devices 1,2 -long and short 2. Lit Rev. 50 Due online be sure to tag [[Category:5490-2021]]
02/11 *No synch class - watch this NanoSi Advanced PV - Dr. Kendrick
02/16 Devices 3/4
02/18 *No synch class - watch this Industrial Processing of Si - Dr. Mayandi 3. Journal, Reviewers, Outline Due via email (1 page, journal(s), 5 reviewers (name, org, email, why them)
02/23 How to make a figure to publish, Devices 5
02/25 Systems 1 4. Methods Due
03/02 Systems 2
03/04 Agrivoltaics 5. Revised methods Due
03/9 No Class Spring Break
03/11 No Class Spring Break
03/16 Systems 3
03/18 *No synch class - HOMER modeling -- watch this Dr. Adewale Adesanya tutorial 6. Draft 1 Complete Due
03/23 SAM 1: Modeling a Residential PV System in SAM Solar photovoltaic software, SAM
03/25 - SAM II: SAM Sizing PVWatts, How to get a PV job.
03/30 SAM III Advanced - choose either SAM shading or SAM bifacial PV VOS Nanohub simulations,
04/01 Systems 5, Economics, How to Present at a Conference
04/06 Systems 5-6, Enviro Revised Draft Due
04/08 Advanced Topics: 1, poor and PV Tutorials, Slides Due Night before presentation
04/13 Advanced Topics:2 microinverter, cut off, Load management Drafts returned
  • no class
04/20 Advanced Topics:3; grid protection, FPV and agv
04/22 Advanced Topics: 4 Last Class; wire racking, PV recycling and heat pumps+PV Final paper with all supporting docs Due on April 29th 8am

Advanced Topics

  1. 04/08 Advanced Topics:1 Pearce poor,
  2. 04/13 Advanced Topics:2 load management, microinverter
  3. 04/20 Advanced Topics:3 grid protection, FPV, agv zoning
  4. 04/22 Advanced Topics:4 wire racking, PV recycling, heat pumps and PV

Other news

Course Reading

PV Materials Module

Why Solar PV?

Background: PV- Path to a Sustainable Future
  1. Introduction to Materials and Crystal Structure Principles of Semiconductor Devices (POSD) Chap 2.2
  2. Band Theory and Semiconductors POSD Chap.2.3
  3. Silicon c-Si, p-Si and “thin film” silicon Si Structure and Growth
  4. Thin Film PV Materials – a-Si:H, CdTe, CIGS, CIS, and InGaN The case for thin film PV, Thin Film Review
  5. Polymers, Quantum Dots, Photosynthesis, and NASA materials Polymer based PV, Quantum DOT PV, Artificial Photosynthesis Basic Research Needs for Solar Energy Utilization

PV Device Module

Background: PVCD Chap 4

Recommended Books



  1. Doping and P/N Junctions PVCD Chap. 5, 6,POSD 4.2-4.6
  2. P-I-N, N-I-P, Schottky Junctions POSD 4.7, POSD 3.1-3.7
  3. PV Devices and Engineering limitations
  4. Dye-sensitized PV Cells Dye-sensitized solar cells
  5. Multi-junction solar cells- III–V multijunction solar cells for concentrating photovoltaics, current records Solar cell efficiency tables (version 52)

PV Systems Module

Background: Category:Photovoltaics
53 GW solar market in 2015; SunEdison's US$4 billion factory in India
That’s a huge disconnect, considering that solar was 53 percent of new U.S. generating capacity in the first half of 2014.
This beats natural gas, and continues to throw new megawatts onto the grid at the average of one home every 2.5 minutes.
PV Exploding 2015

Recommended Books:

  • Steven J. Strong and William G. Scheller, The Solar Electric House: Energy for the Environmentally- Responsive, Energy-Independent Home, by Chelsea Green Pub Co; 2nd edition, 1994. (initial design and contacting a certified installer)
  • Richard J. Komp, and John Perlin, Practical Photovoltaics: Electricity from Solar Cells, Aatec Pub., 3.1 edition, 2002. (A layman’s treatment).
  • Roger Messenger and Jerry Ventre, Photovoltaic Systems Engineering, CRC Press; 3rd edition (February 26, 2010) (Comprehensive specialized engineering of PV systems).
  • Photovoltaics: Design & Installation Manual by SEI Solar Energy International, 2004.
  • How NREL recommends the industry models microinverters and DC power optimizers in PVWatts


  1. The Solar Resource-Solar resource measurement for PV applications PV CDROM Chap 2,8
  2. SPVOL - Engineering I – Inverters and BOS
  3. SPVOL – Engineering II – BIPV, PV/T and new applications PVT Review 2009, PV and sustainable development, Microinverters
  4. HOMER
  5. Solar photovoltaic software, SAM, OS SAM RETScreen, RETScreen tutorial
  6. SPVOL – Economics - LCOE Review of solar levelized cost, The Threat of Microgrids to Utilities, FERC: Almost all new energy is Solar, PV as Security, Google Project Sunroof, 2017 Global transition to RE
  7. SPVOL - Environment and LCA of PV - “Net Energy Analysis For Sustainable Energy Production From Silicon Based Solar Cells”

New: Trina Solar 670W Vertex Module has an efficiency of 21.6%

Adding to course content

When you create a page add {{MY5490 notice}} to the top of the page to get the course notice and put this in your userpage [[Category:5490-2021]]


The Solar Jobs Census 2017 found that solar employment was over 250,000 in the U.S. Solar industry employment has nearly tripled since the first National Solar Jobs Census was released in 2010.[2]

Solar Photovoltaic Specific jobs

Look for top companies by category at http://www.solarpowerworldonline.com/

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