A review of photovoltaic module technologies for increased performance in tropical climate

Osarumen Ogbomo, Emeka Amalu, N. N Ekere, P. O Olagbegi

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The global adoption and use of photovoltaic modules (PVMs) as the main source of energy is the key to realising the UN Millennium Development Goals on Green Energy. The technology – projected to contribute about 20% of world energy supply by 2050, over 60% by 2100 and leading to 50% reduction in global CO2 emissions – is threatened by its poor performance in tropical climate. Such performance discourages its regional acceptance. The magnitude of crucial module performance influencing factors (cell temperature, wind speed and relative humidity) reach critical values of 90 °C, 0.2 m/s and 85%, respectively in tropical climates which negatively impact module performance indices which include power output (PO), power conversion efficiency (PCE) and energy payback time (EPBT). This investigation reviews PVM technologies which include cell, contact and interconnection technologies. It identifies critical technology route(s) with potential to increase operational reliability of PVMs in the tropics when adopted. The cell performance is measured by PO, PCE and EPBT while contacts and interconnections performance is measured by the degree of recombination, shading losses and also the rate of thermo-mechanical degradation. It is found that the mono-crystalline cell has the best PCE of 25% while the Cadmium Telluride (CdTe) cell has the lowest EPBT of 8-months. Results show that the poly-crystalline cell has the largest market share amounting to 54%. The CdTe cell exhibits 0% drop in PCE at high-temperatures and low irradiance operations – demonstrating least affected PO by the conditions. Further results establish that back contacts and back-to-back interconnection technologies produce the least recombination losses and demonstrate absence of shading in addition to possessing longest interconnection fatigue life. Based on these findings, the authors propose a PVM comprising CdTe cell, back contacts and back-to-back interconnection technologies as the technology with latent capacity to produce improved performance in tropical climates.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1225-1238
JournalRenewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
Early online date23 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017


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