Photovoltaic Solar Energy: From Fundamentals to Applications

Solar PV is now the third most important renewable energy source, after hydro and wind power, in terms of global installed capacity. Bringing together the expertise of international PV specialists Photovoltaic Solar Energy: From Fundamentals to Applications provides a comprehensive and up-to-date account of existing PV technologies in conjunction with an assessment of technological developments.Key features:

  • Written by leading specialists active in concurrent developments in material sciences, solar cell research and application-driven R&D.
  • Provides a basic knowledge base in light, photons and solar irradiance and basic functional principles of PV.
  • Covers characterization techniques, economics and applications of PV such as silicon, thin-film and hybrid solar cells.
  • Presents a compendium of PV technologies including: crystalline silicon technologies; chalcogenide thin film solar cells; thin-film silicon based PV technologies; organic PV and III-Vs; PV concentrator technologies; space technologies and economics, life-cycle and user aspects of PV technologies.
  • Each chapter presents basic principles and formulas as well as major technological developments in a contemporary context with a look at future developments in this rapidly changing field of science and engineering.

Ideal for industrial engineers and scientists beginning careers in PV as well as graduate students undertaking PV research and high-level undergraduate students.

Community Review  

  • This is an excellent and comprehensive overview of the fundamentals of photovoltaics. It is well-organised with the self-contained chapters allowing readers to focus on their areas of interest. The chapters that I have read have been extremely well written with the underlying theory being presented in a way that would be understandable to newcomers to the field without sacrificing accuracy or completeness. Would be a great reference text for students studying photovoltaics and practitioners in the field!
  • 4. PAGE 30: Serpentine solar heat collectors are simple to arrange in long parallel arrays and should probably be used that way if more than two collectors are used. Since a parallel configuration is the best way to reduce pressure and efficiency loss, I believe that the authors meant to say that a _series_ configuration can’t be used in long arrays.
    5. PAGE 34: During the many presentations by solar wafer and cell manufacturers that I’ve attended, not one has said they cut the silicon with lasers. They all mention disk blades (not used much anymore) or wire saws.
    6. PAGE 35: The cut-away diagram of a solar module/panel is missing a layer. A complete breakdown is HERE (though I don’t know why the text mentions “Junction Box”): […]
    7. PAGE 48: The description of “Collector Efficiency and Performance” badly needs a graph. Words alone just don’t do justice to this very important topic.
    8. PAGE 53: Contains an oft-stated “comparison” of solar thermal versus solar electric systems (“Heating domestic water with the sun provides between 2 and 18 times as much energy per square foot of collector as does a solar electric system”). Two pieces of information are missing: (1) heat and electricity are two very different types of energy and aren’t really comparable. (2) Electric energy can be used in many more ways than heat energy. It’s basically a sound bite, so no big deal.
    9. PAGE 56: The description of a drain-back system leaves out a key point: the rising liquid pushes the air in the collector(s) through the collector’s outlet pipe and down the pipe where the air is temporarily trapped in a tank before it reaches the hot water tank. The pump basically moves a bubble of air from the collector to the return side of the plumbing and then the bubble rises back to the top of the system, where the collector is, when the pump stops. It’s easy to describe in a way that makes it seem more complicated than it really is.
    10. PAGE 58: Not sure why the authors state that “a drain-back system uses a non-potable [undrinkable] coolant”. The main advantage of a drain-back system is to be able to use plain water without antifreeze (the antifreeze is what makes the coolant non-potable). Water is a great coolant and its performance as a coolant decreases when you add antifreeze.
    11. PAGE 64: Another statement that evacuated-tube collectors are slightly less efficient than flat-plate collectors. (See item 3 above)
    12. PAGE 118: The graph refers to “House Conservation Measures” without mentioning what measures are being used. This makes the graph essentially meaningless.
    13. PAGE 123: During the discussion on transmitted heat gains, it’s worth mentioning that a significant effect of installing a solar array on your roof is the shading that it provides. While the exact benefit is very complex to calculate and quantify, this effect is unmistakable in a region that has more cooling load than heating. The roof stays cooler, exposing the attic to less heat that can penetrate through the ceiling to the house (where the air conditioner, of course, has to use energy to remove it).
    14. PAGE 127: The statement “as air temperatures go down, so does the efficiency of solar collectors” is only true for solar thermal collectors. The efficiency of solar ELECTRICITY panels actually goes up when their temperature goes down.
    15. PAGE 156: If a solar energy system of a certain size costs $65,000, then a system half that size will cost a bit more than half as much, due to the economy of scale you get on the larger system. You can usually buy more than twice as many donuts (or whatever) with twice as much money. This principle is very true for solar electric systems. Many of the costs–design, permitting, engineering, purchasing, installation set-up and clean-up–are not proportional to the system size.

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