Construction of an Outdoor Measuring System for Photovoltaic (PV) Modules  

Project Title: Construction of an Outdoor Measuring System for Photovoltaic (PV) Modules

Applicant: The University of Hong Kong

Total Approved Grant: $148,243

Duration: September 2002 - January 2003

Project Status/Remarks: completed

Scope:

The project aims to set-up an outdoor IV-curve measuring system for PV modules in Hong Kong and results from collaborative overseas research and a transfer of technology.

The outdoor IV-curve measuring system will be built to acquire the characteristics of PV modules under the real local operating conditions. It intends to provide engineers with an independent means of assessing module performance and ascertaining whether the installed PV system meets the design intent.

Being portable, the system can be taken to sites to check the characteristics of modules prior to installation. This is particularly helpful for customized non-standard designs. It can provide the base reference data for future monitoring and the system can also be used as a diagnostic tool in identifying faults or weaknesses in installed systems.

As a number of government projects utilizing PV modules will be carried out in the coming few years, the system can be used to collect technical data that can subsequently be used to assess the effectiveness of different PV technologies in generating electrical power under local climate conditions. The result of the project will be available when the completion report will be published in January 2003.

Summary of the Findings/Outcomes :

An outdoor measuring system for assessing the IV-curves of PV modules and cells has been set-up, commissioned and tested on HKU campus. The system has been validated against data and theoretical models developed at the Paul Scherrer Institute’s Solar Facility in Switzerland. The HK system is mobile and can be taken to other sites preferably with a 2-person operating team. The purpose of the system is to quickly assess the performance of the solar cell or module under local climatic conditions without the need for lengthy monitoring procedures. Manufacturers’ cell/module ratings presently refer to performance under laboratory conditions with parameters notassessed. Though testing procedures and ratings for standard module are becoming more demanding, where modules are customized for particular design or wind-loading requirements, there is the need to check the product meets the standard specified, and priced. The value of this system is that it provides an independent checking system to verify on site the quality of the modules received.