Ural Federal University: Scientists Improved Solar Panel Performance in Heat

Scientists at Ural Federal University have proposed a design for photovoltaic converters that can increase the efficiency of solar panels at elevated temperatures. The university’s specialists managed to increase the efficiency of solar photovoltaic converters up to 10-12%, whereas until now the temperature above +20°C led to a decrease in the efficiency of batteries by 0.4-0.5% for each degree of temperature increase.

The development can be used in hot countries, the scientists believe. Photoelectric converters can be applied as a cost-effective renewable energy device, as well as integrated with other types of renewable energy sources.

“The work has extremely important applied significance for all equatorial countries and for the southern regions of Russia, because an increase in efficiency is an overall reduction in costs, a reduction in payback period,” says Vladimir Velkin, Professor of the Department of Nuclear Power Plants and Renewable Energy Sources of UrFU.

Today, many countries are actively integrating renewable energy sources and technologies into their utility infrastructure. Among the technologies for converting solar energy into electricity, developments based on photovoltaic converters are of particular interest.

Photovoltaic converters consist of silicon components connected in series-parallel to generate 12-24 volts. The magnitude of the current depends on the intensity of the solar radiation coming to the converter, and its peak power depends on the ambient temperature.

As a result of their research, scientists have developed an effective two-surface method of cooling photovoltaic converters.

“We were able to implement a way to cool the FEP using a combination of aluminum fins and phase transition material (paraffin wax), which improves efficiency in equatorial countries. We also implemented a combination of an ultrasonic humidifier and aluminum fins to effectively cool the FEP panel for hot countries,” said Ephraim Bonah Agyekum, a PhD student at the Department of Nuclear Power Plants and Renewable Energy Sources at the UrFU.

Scientists conducted research on the example of the use of solar energy in Ghana. At present, Ghana’s renewable energy sources account for only 0.5% of the energy balance, although, according to the UrFU specialists, the country’s renewable energy resources are very large. In this connection, by 2030 the government of Ghana plans to increase the share of renewables in the country’s energy balance to about 10%.

The method used by UrFU scientists to identify suitable sites for the development of various renewable energy sources, can be applied anywhere in the world, especially in developing countries. The results of the study can help various stakeholders to solve problems faced by the country’s renewable energy sector.

In the near future, the university’s experts will work on simplifying the design and reducing the cost of photovoltaic converters manufacturing, as well as prepare proposals for its mass application.