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Fundamentals of Solar Radiation and Solar Cells

In this free online course, you will learn about estimations of solar radiation and solar photovoltaic conversion.

Publisher: NPTEL
In this free online course, you will learn about the techniques used by scientists and engineers to estimate the quality and quantity of solar radiation received on earth. This data then helps them devise the best means to capture the maximum possible energy from the sun. You will also learn about these devices, particularly solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, and how they are cleverly engineered to produce electricity from solar radiation.
Fundamentals of Solar Radiation and Solar Cells
  • Duration

    4-5 Hours
  • Students

  • Accreditation






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This free online course on solar radiation and PV systems reveals some of the basic techniques and measures adopted by solar scientists and engineers to gauge and capture solar radiation. It begins by explaining the need for estimating and predicting the availability of solar radiation, not only in the different parts of the earth but also in extraterrestrial regions. You will learn about the empirical equations and correlations that relate the values of radiation, global or diffused, with meteorological parameters like sunshine hours, cloud cover, and precipitations. These correlations are used, in the absence of actual accurate sunshine data, to estimate monthly, daily, and an hourly average of radiation available on any horizontal or inclined surface, under clear or cloudy skies. With the help of examples, you will learn how to use these equations and correlations to predict the availability of radiation. You will also learn about the application of these methods in designing efficient solar energy systems. As solar energy is fast gaining in importance as the most reliable, and clean source of energy, this will help you understand some of the challenges faced by solar energy engineers and designers.   

Next, you will learn about designing photovoltaic systems for the conversion of solar energy into electricity for mass consumption. This includes the construction of PV cells and their manufacturing process, specifications of solar modules, arrays, their application, and working principles of solar cells. To understand how solar cells work, you will dive into the fascinating field of semiconductor physics and learn about the concepts of doping, Fermi energy level, p-n junction, drift current and diffusion current, band gap energy and energy loss mechanism. You will also learn about the electrical parameters such as I-V characteristics of solar cells, the effect of insolation and temperature on I-V characteristics, efficiency of a solar cell, equivalent circuit diagrams and theoretical maximum power. Like all systems, PV conversion has its own difficulties and challenges. You will be introduced to challenges such as cell mismatch, the effect of shadows, maximization of Solar PV output, and load matching. You will be shown t certain solutions to these challenges, such as mechanical and electrical tracking and bypass diodes. Finally, you will learn about the improvements in different generations of PV technology.   

This course is suitable for you if you have some basic knowledge of physics, understand the fundamentals of light, electricity and thermodynamics, and would like to increase your knowledge about solar energy engineering and technology. This course can be a precursor to an in-depth study of energy technology and management and will be useful to you should you wish to pursue a career in energy, especially renewable energy and environmental studies. Due to the current emphasis on sustainability practices, architects and town planners are also required to incorporate solar energy devices in all their designs and planning of green buildings and environments. This course will therefore also be useful to students of architecture. As the energy demand is spiralling across the world and the need to get the maximum out of Solar energy is becoming increasingly important, the role of energy engineers and technologists are also becoming increasingly important. Building a career in the field of energy engineering or a related field can be extremely rewarding for the impact you can have on the future. Without further delay, dive right into this course and start your journey to a bright future.

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