Matching Items (44)
As existing solar cell technologies come closer to their theoretical efficiency, new concepts that overcome the Shockley-Queisser limit and exceed 50% efficiency need to be explored. New materials systems are often investigated to achieve this, but the use of existing solar cell materials in advanced concept approaches is compelling for multiple theoretical and practical reasons. In order to include advanced concept approaches into existing materials, nanostructures are used as they alter the physical properties of these materials. To explore advanced nanostructured concepts with existing materials such as III-V alloys, silicon and/or silicon/germanium and associated alloys, fundamental aspects of using these materials in advanced concept nanostructured solar cells must be understood. Chief among these is the determination and predication of optimum electronic band structures, including effects such as strain on the band structure, and the material's opto-electronic properties. Nanostructures have a large impact on band structure and electronic properties through quantum confinement. An additional large effect is the change in band structure due to elastic strain caused by lattice mismatch between the barrier and nanostructured (usually self-assembled QDs) materials. To develop a material model for advanced concept solar cells, the band structure is calculated for single as well as vertical array of quantum dots with the realistic effects such as strain, associated with the epitaxial growth of these materials. The results show significant effect of strain in band structure. More importantly, the band diagram of a vertical array of QDs with different spacer layer thickness show significant change in band offsets, especially for heavy and light hole valence bands when the spacer layer thickness is reduced. These results, ultimately, have significance to develop a material model for advance concept solar cells that use the QD nanostructures as absorbing medium. The band structure calculations serve as the basis for multiple other calculations. Chief among these is that the model allows the design of a practical QD advanced concept solar cell, which meets key design criteria such as a negligible valence band offset between the QD/barrier materials and close to optimum band gaps, resulting in the predication of optimum material combinations.
A primary motivation of research in photovoltaic technology is to obtain higher efficiency photovoltaic devices at reduced cost of production so that solar electricity can be cost competitive. The majority of photovoltaic technologies are based on p-n junction, with efficiency potential being much lower than the thermodynamic limits of individual technologies and thereby providing substantial scope for further improvements in efficiency. The thesis explores photovoltaic devices using new physical processes that rely on thin layers and are capable of attaining the thermodynamic limit of photovoltaic technology. Silicon heterostructure is one of the candidate technologies in which thin films induce a minority carrier collecting junction in silicon and the devices can achieve efficiency close to the thermodynamic limits of silicon technology. The thesis proposes and experimentally establishes a new theory explaining the operation of silicon heterostructure solar cells. The theory will assist in identifying the optimum properties of thin film materials for silicon heterostructure and help in design and characterization of the devices, along with aiding in developing new devices based on this technology. The efficiency potential of silicon heterostructure is constrained by the thermodynamic limit (31%) of single junction solar cell and is considerably lower than the limit of photovoltaic conversion (~ 80 %). A further improvement in photovoltaic conversion efficiency is possible by implementing a multiple quasi-fermi level system (MQFL). A MQFL allows the absorption of sub band gap photons with current being extracted at a higher band-gap, thereby allowing to overcome the efficiency limit of single junction devices. A MQFL can be realized either by thin epitaxial layers of alternating higher and lower band gap material with nearly lattice matched (quantum well) or highly lattice mismatched (quantum dot) structure. The thesis identifies the material combination for quantum well structure and calculates the absorption coefficient of a MQFl based on quantum well. GaAsSb (barrier)/InAs(dot) was identified as a candidate material for MQFL using quantum dot. The thesis explains the growth mechanism of GaAsSb and the optimization of GaAsSb and GaAs heterointerface.
Photovoltaic (PV) modules are typically rated at three test conditions: STC (standard test conditions), NOCT (nominal operating cell temperature) and Low E (low irradiance). The current thesis deals with the power rating of PV modules at twenty-three test conditions as per the recent International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standard of IEC 61853 – 1. In the current research, an automation software tool developed by a previous researcher of ASU – PRL (ASU Photovoltaic Reliability Laboratory) is validated at various stages. Also in the current research, the power rating of PV modules for four different manufacturers is carried out according to IEC 61853 – 1 standard using a new outdoor test method. The new outdoor method described in this thesis is very different from the one reported by a previous researcher of ASU – PRL. The new method was designed to reduce the labor hours in collecting the current-voltage ( I – V) curves at various temperatures and irradiance levels. The power matrices for all the four manufacturers were generated using the I – V data generated at different temperatures and irradiance levels and the translation procedures described in IEC 60891 standard. All the measurements were carried out on both clear and cloudy days using an automated 2 – axis tracker located at ASU – PRL, Mesa, Arizona. The modules were left on the 2 – axis tracker for 12 continuous days and the data was continuously and automatically collected for every two minutes from 6 am to 6 pm. In order to obtain the I – V data at wide range of temperatures and irradiance levels, four identical (or nearly identical) modules were simultaneously installed on the 2 – axis tracker with and without thermal insulators on the back of the modules and with and without mesh screens on the front of the modules. Several issues related to the automation software were uncovered and the required improvement in the software has been suggested. The power matrices for four manufacturers have been successfully generated using the new outdoor test method developed in this work. The data generated in this work has been extensively analyzed for accuracy and for performance efficiency comparison at various temperatures and irradiance levels.
This is a two part thesis:
Part – I
This part of the thesis involves automation of statistical risk analysis of photovoltaic (PV) power plants. Statistical risk analysis on the field observed defects/failures in the PV power plants is usually carried out using a combination of several manual methods which are often laborious, time consuming and prone to human errors. In order to mitigate these issues, an automated statistical risk analysis (FMECA) is necessary. The automation developed and presented in this project generates about 20 different reliability risk plots in about 3-4 minutes without the need of several manual labor hours traditionally spent for these analyses. The primary focus of this project is to automatically generate Risk Priority Number (RPN) for each defect/failure based on two Excel spreadsheets: Defect spreadsheet; Degradation rate spreadsheet. Automation involves two major programs – one to calculate Global RPN (Sum of Performance RPN and Safety RPN) and the other to find the correlation of defects with I-V parameters’ degradations. Based on the generated RPN and other reliability plots, warranty claims for material defect and degradation rate may be made by the system owners.
Part – II
This part of the thesis involves the evaluation of Module Level Power Electronics (MLPE) which are commercially available and used by the industry. Reliability evaluations of any product typically involve pre-characterizations, many different accelerated stress tests and post-characterizations. Due to time constraints, this part of the project was limited to only pre-characterizations of about 100 MLPE units commercially available from 5 different manufacturers. Pre-characterizations involve testing MLPE units for rated efficiency, CEC efficiency, power factor and Harmonics (Vthd (%) and Ithd (%)). The pre-characterization test results can be used to validate manufacturer claims and to evaluate the product for compliance certification test standards. Pre-characterization results were compared for all MLPE units individually for all tested parameters listed above. The accelerated stress tests are ongoing and are not presented in this thesis. Based on the pre-characterizations presented in this report and post-characterizations performed after the stress tests, the pass/fail and time-to-failure analyses can be carried out by future researchers.
Potential-Induced Degradation (PID) is an extremely serious photovoltaic (PV) durability issue significantly observed in crystalline silicon PV modules due to its rapid power degradation, particularly when compared to other PV degradation modes. The focus of this dissertation is to understand PID mechanisms and to develop PID-free cells and modules. PID-affected modules have been claimed to be fully recovered by high temperature and reverse potential treatments. However, the results obtained in this work indicate that the near-full recovery of efficiency can be achieved only at high irradiance conditions, but the full recovery of efficiency at low irradiance levels, of shunt resistance, and of quantum efficiency (QE) at short wavelengths could not be achieved. The QE loss observed at short wavelengths was modeled by changing the front surface recombination velocity. The QE scaling error due to a measurement on a PID shunted cell was addressed by developing a very low input impedance accessory applicable to an existing QE system. The impacts of silicon nitride (SiNx) anti-reflection coating (ARC) refractive index (RI) and emitter sheet resistance on PID are presented. Low RI ARC cells (1.87) were observed to be PID-susceptible whereas high RI ARC cells (2.05) were determined to be PID-resistant using a method employing high dose corona charging followed by time-resolved measurement of surface voltage. It has been demonstrated that the PID could be prevented by deploying an emitter having a low sheet resistance (~ 60 /sq) even if a PID-susceptible ARC is used in a cell. Secondary ion mass spectroscopy (SIMS) results suggest that a high phosphorous emitter layer hinders sodium transport, which is responsible for the PID. Cells can be screened for PID susceptibility by illuminated lock-in thermography (ILIT) during the cell fabrication process, and the sample structure for this can advantageously be simplified as long as the sample has the SiNx ARC and an aluminum back surface field. Finally, this dissertation presents a prospective method for eliminating or minimizing the PID issue either in the factory during manufacturing or in the field after system installation. The method uses commercially available, thin, and flexible Corning® Willow® Glass sheets or strips on the PV module glass superstrates, disrupting the current leakage path from the cells to the grounded frame.
Photovoltaics (PV) is an environmentally promising technology to meet climate goals and transition away from greenhouse-gas (GHG) intensive sources of electricity. The dominant approach to improve the environmental gains from PV is increasing the module efficiency and, thereby, the renewable electricity generated during use. While increasing the use-phase environmental benefits, this approach doesn’t address environmentally intensive PV manufacturing and recycling processes.
Lifecycle assessment (LCA), the preferred framework to identify and address environmental hotspots in PV manufacturing and recycling, doesn’t account for time-sensitive climate impact of PV manufacturing GHG emissions and underestimates the climate benefit of manufacturing improvements. Furthermore, LCA is inherently retrospective by relying on inventory data collected from commercial-scale processes that have matured over time and this approach cannot evaluate environmentally promising pilot-scale alternatives based on lab-scale data. Also, prospective-LCAs that rely on hotspot analysis to guide future environmental improvements, (1) don’t account for stake-holder inputs to guide environmental choices in a specific decision context, and (2) may fail in a comparative context where the mutual differences in the environmental impacts of the alternatives and not the environmental hotspots of a particular alternative determine the environmentally preferable alternative
This thesis addresses the aforementioned problematic aspects by (1)using the time-sensitive radiative-forcing metric to identify PV manufacturing improvements with the highest climate benefit, (2)identifying the environmental hotspots in the incumbent CdTe-PV recycling process, and (3)applying the anticipatory-LCA framework to identify the most environmentally favorable alternative to address the recycling hotspot and significant stakeholder inputs that can impact the choice of the preferred recycling alternative.
The results show that using low-carbon electricity is the most significant PV manufacturing improvement and is equivalent to increasing the mono-Si and multi-Si module efficiency from a baseline of 17% to 21.7% and 16% to 18.7%, respectively. The elimination of the ethylene-vinyl acetate encapsulant through mechanical and chemical processes is the most significant environmental hotspot for CdTe PV recycling. Thermal delamination is the most promising environmental alternative to address this hotspot. The most significant stake-holder input to influence the choice of the environmentally preferable recycling alternative is the weight assigned to the different environmental impact categories.
The state of the solar industry has reached a point where significant advancements in efficiency will require new materials and device concepts. The material class broadly known as the III-N's have a rich history as a commercially successful semiconductor. Since discovery in 2003 these materials have shown promise for the field of photovoltaic solar technologies. However, inherent material issues in crystal growth and the subsequent effects on device performance have hindered their development. This thesis explores new growth techniques for III-N materials in tandem with new device concepts that will either work around the previous hindrances or open pathways to device technologies with higher theoretical limits than much of current photovoltaics. These include a novel crystal growth reactor, efforts in production of better quality material at faster rates, and development of advanced photovoltaic devices: an inversion junction solar cell, material work for hot carrier solar cell, ground work for a selective carrier contact, and finally a refractory solar cell for operation at several hundred degrees Celsius.
Distributed Renewable energy generators are now contributing a significant amount of energy into the energy grid. Consequently, reliability adequacy of such energy generators will depend on making accurate forecasts of energy produced by them. Power outputs of Solar PV systems depend on the stochastic variation of environmental factors (solar irradiance, ambient temperature & wind speed) and random mechanical failures/repairs. Monte Carlo Simulation which is typically used to model such problems becomes too computationally intensive leading to simplifying state-space assumptions. Multi-state models for power system reliability offer a higher flexibility in providing a description of system state evolution and an accurate representation of probability. In this study, Universal Generating Functions (UGF) were used to solve such combinatorial problems. 8 grid connected Solar PV systems were analyzed with a combined capacity of about 5MW located in a hot-dry climate (Arizona) and accuracy of 98% was achieved when validated with real-time data. An analytics framework is provided to grid operators and utilities to effectively forecast energy produced by distributed energy assets and in turn, develop strategies for effective Demand Response in times of increased share of renewable distributed energy assets in the grid. Second part of this thesis extends the environmental modelling approach to develop an aging test to be run in conjunction with an accelerated test of Solar PV modules. Accelerated Lifetime Testing procedures in the industry are used to determine the dominant failure modes which the product undergoes in the field, as well as predict the lifetime of the product. UV stressor is one of the ten stressors which a PV module undergoes in the field. UV exposure causes browning of modules leading to drop in Short Circuit Current. This thesis presents an environmental modelling approach for the hot-dry climate and extends it to develop an aging test methodology. This along with the accelerated tests would help achieve the goal of correlating field failures with accelerated tests and obtain acceleration factor. This knowledge would help predict PV module degradation in the field within 30% of the actual value and help in knowing the PV module lifetime accurately.
Silicon photovoltaics (PV) is approaching its theoretical efficiency limit as a single-junction technology. To break this limit and further lower the PV-generated levelized cost of electricity, it is necessary to engineer a silicon-based “tandem” technology in which a solar cell of another material is stacked on top of silicon to make more efficient use of the full solar spectrum.
This dissertation understands and develops four aspects of silicon-based tandem PV technology. First, a new “spectral efficiency” concept is proposed to understand how tandem cells should be designed and to identify the best tandem partners for silicon cells. Using spectral efficiency, a top-cell-design guide is constructed for silicon-based tandems that sets efficiency targets for top cells with various bandgaps to achieve targeted tandem efficiencies.
Second, silicon heterojunction solar cells are tuned to the near-infrared spectrum to enable world-record perovskite/silicon tandems both in two- and four-terminal configurations. In particular, for the 23.6%-efficient two-terminal tandem, a single-side textured silicon bottom cell is fabricated with a low-refractive-index silicon nanoparticle layer as a rear reflector. This design boosts the current density to 18.5 mA/cm2; this value exceeds that of any other silicon bottom cell and matches that of the top cell.
Third, “PVMirrors” are proposed as a novel tandem architecture to integrate silicon cells with various top cells. A strength of the design is that the PVMirror collects diffuse light as a concentrating technology. With this concept, a gallium-arsenide/silicon PVMirror tandem is demonstrated with an outdoor efficiency of 29.6%, with respect to the global irradiance.
Finally, a simple and versatile analytical model is constructed to evaluate the cost competitiveness of an arbitrary tandem against its sub-cell alternatives. It indicates that tandems will become increasingly attractive in the market, as the ratio of sub-cell module cost to area-related balance-of-system cost—the key metric that will determine the market success or failure of tandems—is decreasing.
As an evolution of silicon technology, silicon-based tandems are the future of PV. They will allow more people to have access to clean energy at ultra-low cost. This thesis defines both the technological and economic landscape of silicon-based tandems, and makes important contributions to this tandem future.
The objective of this thesis is to achieve a detailed understanding of the loss mechanisms in SHJ solar cells. The working principles of these cells and what affects the cell operation, e.g. the IV characteristics at the maximum power point (MPP) and the correspondingly ll factor (FF) are investigated. Dierent loss sources are analyzed separately, and the weight of each in the total loss at the MPP are evaluated. The total series resistance is measured and then compared with the value obtained through summation over each of its components. In other words, series resistance losses due to recombination, vertical and lateral carrier transport, metalization, etc, are individually evaluated, and then by adding all these components together, the total loss is calculated. The concept of ll factor and its direct dependence on the loss mechanisms at the MPP of the device is explained, and its sensitivity to nearly every processing step of the cell fabrication is investigated. This analysis provides a focus lens to identify the main source of losses in SHJ solar cells and pave the path for further improvements in cell efficiency.
In this thesis, we provide a detailed understanding of the FF concept; we explain how it can be directly measured; how it can be calculated and what expressions can better approximate its value and under what operating conditions. The relation between FF and cell operating condition at the MPP is investigated. We separately analyzed the main FF sources of losses including recombination, sheet resistance, contact resistance and metalization. We study FF loss due to recombination and its separate components which include the Augur, radiative and SRH recombination is investigated. We study FF loss due to contact resistance and its separate components which include the contact resistance of dierent interfaces, e.g. between the intrinsic and doped a-Si layers, TCO and a-Si layers. We also study FF loss due to lateral transport and its components that including the TCO sheet resistance, the nger and the busbars resistances.