Evaluation of alternative cooling techniques for photovoltaic panels

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University of Alabama Libraries

The growing worldwide demand for electricity, rising fossil fuels prices and increasing concerns about global warming, have renewed attention in renewable energies during last decades. Solar energy is the most abundant source of energy on the earth. Although technologies for converting sunlight energy to power have made a lot of progress, high capital cost and low conversion efficiency are the main hurdles for widespread use of these technologies. Using different methods in order to increase the efficiency of solar power generation and make it a more cost effective technology have been studied during years. In the present work, the use of photovoltaic panel is studied and the effect of applying tracking, concentration and cooling methods to improve the performance of the system is investigated. While using photovoltaic panels in the southeast Unites States has been judged less attractive than in other parts of the country owing to the humid climate and numerous cloudy days, in the present work the meteorological data are obtained from National Solar Radiation Database [ ] for Tuscaloosa, Alabama and the annual performance of the system is determined for operation of the system in this area. The combined use of photovoltaic cells and thermoelectric modules is another thrust of this research. Two innovative systems are proposed and investigated including combined photovoltaic-thermoelectric power generation system (PV-TEG) and combined photovoltaic-thermoelectric cooling system (PV-TEC). In the first system the TEG modules are considered to be installed in the backside of the PV panel to convert the excess heat from the PV cells to electricity. The performance of the system is evaluated under different conditions and by using the meteorological data for Tuscaloosa, AL. In the second system (PV-TEC), two different approaches are proposed and investigated in order to use the combined PV-TEC system. In the first approach, the goal is keeping the cell temperature under a specific limit while in the second approach, the goal is maximizing the output power from the system by reducing the cell temperature. All the studies are performed via computer simulation in MATLAB and the results are discussed extensively through several graphs and tables.

Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Mechanical engineering, Alternative energy, Energy