This timely research titled “Performance Evaluation of Monocrystalline and Polycrystalline Silicon Solar Photovoltaic Modules Under Low and High Irradiance Conditions in Kumasi, Ghana” was conducted by Takyi, G., Adunyah, A. S. and Agyei-Agyemang, A. (all of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana).
Monocrystalline and Polycrystalline Silicon Solar Photovoltaic Modules commonly known as Solar Panels are very useful for converting Solar (Sun) energy to Electrical energy which promises a green future. With the increasing usage of Solar Electricity in Africa and the demand for solar panels, there is a need for solar panel installers and solar system designers to understand the two (2) most common modules (Monocrystalline and Polycrystalline) sold in the market. The performance efficiency of these panels to a large extent determines the voltage of the electricity produced. Thus, this paper is very timely in helping Africans to decide on the module to purchase and implement in their solar panel installations or solar system designs.
The researchers posited that one of the biggest drawbacks of photovoltaic (PV) for many applications is the uncertainty in the energy output due to losses attributed to efficiency loss at low irradiance levels. Therefore, the researchers in this study, evaluated the electrical performance of as-received monocrystalline silicon (mono-c-Si) and polycrystalline silicon (poly-c-Si) PV modules at high and low irradiance conditions in Kumasi, Ghana using I-V Tracer.
The researchers were able to achieve a low irradiance level of 200Wm^2 by covering the surface of the PV modules with a calibrated mesh screen. Maximum output power (P_max) of 87.9 W and 136.7 W were recorded for the mono-c-Si and poly-c-Si modules at high irradiance respectively. The corresponding average values at low irradiance were 8.29 W and 12.13 W representing percentage reductions of 90.57% and 91.60% respectively for the two technologies. These results indicate that when irradiance drops to 200 W/m^2 and below, the PV modules generate around only 10% of their nominal output power.
According to the researchers, these findings has implications for the number of modules that were required for installation in areas that experience many hours of low irradiance. Efficiency reductions of 64.4% and 59.01% for the mono-c-Si and poly-c-Si modules respectively at low irradiance was reported. The results also indicate that the mono-c-Si is affected more by light-induced degradation effect than the poly-c-Si module after a few hours of exposure to the natural light.
The researchers in conclusion reiterated the novelty of the research, by stating that this work provided a research-backed knowledge of the performance of PVs at low irradiance enabling solar panel installers and solar system designers to determine the number of modules required during the sizing of PV plants for best performance.
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