Parametric Analysis of a Coupled Photovoltaic/Thermal Concentrating Solar Collector for Electricity Generation

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Otanicar, Todd; Chowdhury, I.; Phelan, P. E.; Prasher, R.
Mechanical Engineering
article description
The analysis of the combined efficiencies in a coupled photovoltaic (PV)/thermal concentrating solar collector are presented based on a coupled electrical/thermal model. The calculations take into account the drop in efficiency that accompanies the operation of PV cells at elevated temperatures along with a detailed analysis of the thermal system including losses. An iterative numerical scheme is described that involves a coupled electrothermal simulation of the solar energy conversion process. In the proposed configuration losses in the PV cell due to reduced efficiencies at elevated temperatures and the incident solar energy below the PV bandgap are both harnessed as heat. This thermal energy is then used to drive a thermodynamic power cycle. The simulations show that it is possible to optimize the overall efficiency of the system by variation in key factors such as the solar concentration factor, the band gap of the PV material, and the system thermal design configuration, leading to a maximum combined efficiency of similar to 32.3% for solar concentrations between 10-50 and a band-gap around 1.5-2.0 eV. (C) 2010 American Institute of Physics. [doi: 10.1063/1.3514590]