The PV Technology Laboratory has developed state-of-the-art outdoor and indoor facilities for the characterisation, evaluation, and monitoring of different PV technologies ranging from crystalline silicon to thin film technologies, concentrators as well as novel technologies such as organic phototovoltaics, flexible photovoltaics and building integrated photovoltaics. Our work focuses in particular on the understanding of the loss processes under real and standardised conditions, the development of models for the characterisation of these technologies based on the real outdoor data and the study of degradation, reliability, stability and durability. Of particular interest to us is the study of degradation under outdoor and indoor conditions and the side-by-side comparison in order to understand better the mechanisms of degradation. Furthermore, the development of protocols for the characterisation of new technologies such as nanostructured cells and multi-junction technologies is amongst our primary aims.
The outdoor facilities consist of diagnostics for the measurement and monitoring at a high resolution of all the important environmental and operational parameters for photovoltaic technologies (including the spectrum on an accurate instrumented tracker and at the plane of the array). 25 different grid-connected PV technologies each one having a nominal power of 1kW p (so that comparisons between the technologies can be undertaken) are currently being monitored. The technologies involved range from fixed system mono crystalline, poly crystalline silicon to amorphous thin film silicon, cadmium telluride (CdTe), CuInSe2, HIT-cell and other high efficiency solar cell technologies from a range of manufacturers such as BP Solar, Atersa, Sanyo, Solon, Sunpower etc. A tracked system has also been installed as well as the latest concentrator technologies covering the majority of the current and up and coming PV technologies.
The aim of our work is to set up the infrastructure for continuous monitoring of PV systems (together with weather and irradiation data) and to assess their performance under the exact same field conditions through exhaustive data analysis. Furthermore, we aim at developing physical and electrical models in order to enhance our understanding of the underlying processes, especially for new technologies, and to optimise the systems for improved performance. Monitoring the concentrator systems, in addition, will also allow a direct comparison and assessment of this technology to be obtained. The effect of temperature, mismatch and optical losses on the performance of the systems is also of significant interest.
Our indoor facilities consist of climatic chambers, solar simulators, UV chambers, cell and lens characterisation systems and spectral response measurement equipment. We are in the process of rendering our facility 17025 certified for type approval and qualification of crystalline, thin film and concentrator technologies based on the IEC 61215, 61646 and 62108 standards respectively.
Additional work includes solar assisted desalination and cooling, grid integration, power quality issues in the presence of large penetration of solar energy, energy management systems, automation and telemetry, development of solutions for remote and accurate monitoring of PV systems and solar thermal technologies.
We work closely with the relevant bodies responsible for the Energy Policy in Cyprus, such as the Cyprus Energy Regulatory Authority, the Cyprus Institute of Energy, the Cyprus Organisation for Standardisation and the Electricity Authority of Cyprus in an attempt to disseminate best practices in Cyprus and to encourage the uptake of the PV technology. Members of our group represent Cyprus in European Energy Committees such as the Energy Committee for the FP7, the SET Plan, the European Standards Committees on PV and the EU PV Mirror Group. Furthermore, our staff act as expert evaluators for predominantly Energy Proposals within the FP7 and other National initiatives. We have received funding through the EU, the National Research Funding Agency in Cyprus as well as the Electricity Authority of Cyprus and the Cyprus Energy Regulatory Authority. We are looking to conduct high quality research in the area of Solar Energy Technologies and to be actively involved in European initiatives that will enable us to contribute on the European scene but to also achieve transfer of knowledge to our country in a field of utmost importance for the future of our energy mix in Cyprus.