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Renewable energy science fair project:
Temperature Effects of the Power Generation of a Solar Cell

Science Fair Project Information
Title: How Temperature Affects the Voltage, Current and Power Generation of a Solar Cell
Subject: Renewable Energy
Grade level: Middle School - Grades 7-9
Academic Level: Ordinary
Project Type: Experimental
Cost: Medium
Affiliation: Selah Junior High School
Year: 1998
Description: The surrounding temperature of the solar cell is manipulated by a 100w bulb and the resulting generation of current (mA), voltage (mV), and the power (wattage) is measured / calculated.
Link: http://www.selah.k12.wa.us/JHS/Brown/CALEBCSCIPROJ.HTML
Short Background
  • IL = photogenerated current density (amperes/cm2)
  • Io= reverse saturation current density (amperes/cm2)
  • Voc= open circuit voltage (volts)
  • T=temperature
  • Temperature affects the characteristic equation of a solar cell in two ways: directly, via T in the exponential term, and indirectly via its effect on I0. (Strictly speaking, temperature affects all of the terms, but these two far more significantly than the others.) While increasing T reduces the magnitude of the exponent in the characteristic equation, the value of I0 increases in proportion to expT. The net effect is to reduce VOC linearly with increasing temperature. The magnitude of this reduction is inversely proportional to VOC; that is, cells with higher values of VOC suffer smaller reductions in voltage with increasing temperature. For most crystalline silicon solar cells the reduction is about 0.50%/C, though the rate for the highest-efficiency crystalline silicon cells is around 0.35%/C. By way of comparison, the rate for amorphous silicon solar cells is 0.20-0.30%/C, depending on how the cell is made.

    The amount of photogenerated current IL increases slightly with increasing temperature because of an increase in the number of thermally generated carriers in the cell. This effect is slight, however: about 0.065%/C for crystalline silicon cells and 0.09% for amorphous silicon cells.

    The overall effect of temperature on cell efficiency can be computed using these factors in combination with the characteristic equation. However, since the change in voltage is much stronger than the change in current, the overall effect on efficiency tends to be similar to that on voltage. Most crystalline silicon solar cells decline in efficiency by 0.50%/C and most amorphous cells decline by 0.15-0.25%/C. The figure to the right shows I-V curves that might typically be seen for a crystalline silicon solar cell at various temperatures.

    Effect of temperature on the current-voltage characteristics of a solar cell

    Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)

    For More Information: Solar Cell Projects, Experiments & Background Information

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