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Mapping system for photovoltaic surfaces aims to improve solar panel efficiencies

May 14, 2010 | Paul Buckley | 222900937
A new mapping system for studying photovoltaic surfaces has been developed by a group of researchers of the University of Cadiz in Spain.

The system can detect, at the micrometric level, all the defects existing in a solar panel that could influence the overall performance of the photovoltaic cells.

The team headed by Professor Joaquin Martin Calleja has developed the methodology for detecting faults in photovoltaic solar panels resulting from manufacturing errors.

The University of Cadiz has patented the device which determines whether or not the cells mapped present irregularities in their functioning, according to the particular zone of the surface that is analyzed. The defects have a negative effect on the overall performance of the panel, since the defective cell will generate photoconversion values that are lower than the maximum theoretically possible.

The mapping of the photosensitive surfaces allows the possible causes of the reduced performance of the panel to be determined. Although devices that make point-to-point measurements of the cell by laser currently exist, none of these has achieved the accurate emulation of solar light. The majority of the systems are not available on the market, and they suffer from limitations through utilizing only monochromatic light as the source of irradiation. This represents a limitation because the photoconversion panels function when exposed to sunlight.  Any measurements obtained with laser beams are not true to the real conditions to which these solar panels are subjected.

The mapping system offers three benefits compared with other systems:

  • The system provides the simulation of a source of white light that matches the specifications of a solar emission.
  • The system enables high resolution maps of photoconvertor efficiency to be obtained.
  • The system allows possible manufacturing defects in photoconvertor surfaces to be detected.
“This new mapping equipment has not been designed with a direct commercial objective; rather, it is a scientific development that will facilitate our research work for future studies. However, this advance may be of interest to those universities working with energy conversion systems, and who may be doing research in this field. It could similarly be made available commercially to laboratories of companies engaged in the design and manufacture of solar energy equipment and who may be carrying out their own research work,” said Professor Joaquin Martin Calleja.

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