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Simulation of the thermal behaviour of a Solar PV Panel

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Scope and Goal[edit]

Solar photovoltaic panels produce electricity by converting solar light through the photovoltaic effect. In areas where the solar irradiation is high enough the solar panels should produce proportional amount of electricity but it has been noted that the yield of solar panels decreases with the increase of temperature. As a result solar panels produce less electricity than they should when exposed to high solar irradiation and high temperatures. The goal of this project was to study the thermal behavior of a solar panel and simulate a heat recovery process that will allow to recover heat for other purposes while cooling down the solar panels. The heat recovery device considered for the simulation is a liquid-cooling device that is made of tubes and an absorbing plate. The plate is placed under the panels and a liquid, water in our study, will go through the tubes to cool down the solar panels.


A numerical approach was used in this project. For this purpose, a thermal profile was created for each component of the solar panels: the protection glass, the PV cells layer and the tedlar layer. Then, the heat transfer system was modeled as a tubular liquid heat exchange device. The whole system has 6 layers: the three layers of the solar panels, to which where added three new layers: an absorbing plate, tubes, and an insulation layer. Thermal exchange equations has been derived for each layer and a corresponding electrical equation was derived for the PV cells layer. The simulation was run in Matlab.

Results and Conclusion[edit]

The output of the simulation were the electrical power and yield, thermal power and yield and the overall yield of the combined photovoltaic-thermal panel. The results obtained after the simulation has proved that the overall efficiency of the simulated solar PV panel can be improved by using a heat recovery device. The results showed that the electrical yield of the combined photovoltaic-thermal system was slightly lower than that of a solar PV panel alone but a significant amount of thermal power could be recovered from the combined system. As a result, the overall efficiency of the solar panel was increased. This technique can be used in remote areas to produce electricity and heat for low heat processes.

Link To article[edit]

A thesis was written around this project and a paper was produced and published at the end of this study.