A novel widespread Matlab/Simulink based modeling of InGaN double hetero-junction p-i-n solar cell
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This paper presents a model of a photovoltaic (PV) cell based on InGaN instead of regular cells made up of silicon, while polarization effects are considered. The model is constructed under Matlab/Simulink environment upon the equivalent electrical circuit of the PV cell. The way components of the equivalent electrical circuit are connected leads to establishing mathematical equations, thus, describing the behavior of the PV cell under different environmental and physical conditions. Once the PV cell model is validated by means of experimental results, it has been extended to build a model of a PV module made up of numerous cells interconnected in diverse potential configurations depending on the expected outputs in terms of current/voltage. The model has shown promising and accurate results and would aid researchers in the field of power electronics to consider it as a truthful PV generator (PVG).
KeywordsMatlab/Simulink Photovoltaic cell Temperature Insolation InGaN
By the end of 2016, cumulative global installed photovoltaic (PV) installations will outshine 310 gigawatts (GW), compared to just 40 GW at the end of 2010, and more than 69 GW in 2011 according to HIS . The European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) reported that the production of solar energy is estimated to attain 1845 GW by 2030. Such potential will offer electricity to 4.5 billion people mostly in the developed countries .
In a short time, the world energy consumption would be 10 terawatts (TW) per year, and in less than 35 years, it is expected to reach 30 TW. The world would have need of utilizing around 20 TW of non-CO2 energy to reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere by 2050 . The easiest way to overcome such challenging goals is to get benefit from photovoltaics as well as from other renewable sources capable of producing these huge amounts in a timely manner.
In an attempt to enhance and increase the employment of PV systems, research activities are being piloted in an endeavor to gain further improvement in terms of cost, efficiency and reliability.
Unlike regular silicon cells, novel materials such as InGaN would be a reasonable choice to gain further reimbursements keeping in mind that, unfortunately, PV technology is still a costly and expensive solution as compared to fossils. Hence, III-nitrides are drawing more attention due to their high performance. Indium gallium nitride alloy exhibits excellent characteristics which makes it an ideal candidate to be used in solar cells. This system shows many interesting properties such as the important absorption coefficient, a tunable band gap which varies from 0.7 eV (InN) to 3.4 eV (GaN) covering almost the whole solar spectrum, a high carrier mobility, a large breakdown bias voltage, an effective electron transport and a strong spontaneous and piezoelectric polarization which improve the solar cell performance [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6].
According to [7, 8, 9], it has been reported that the development of all-InGaN multi-junction solar cells with an overall effectiveness larger than 50% is theoretically feasible. However, practically, it is still doubtful to reach what has been estimated theoretically. This is due to numerous reasons such as the high indium (In) incorporation, the inadequate control during the epitaxial growth of thin films and the polarization effects [10, 11, 12].
For instance, and in an attempt to consider all physical and environmental impacts on the performance of the PV cell in terms of energy production, the previously mentioned polarization effects of the InGaN all along with the parasitic components such as the shunt and the series resistances would be taken into consideration when developing the Matlab/Simulink model. Obviously, the model, based on mathematical equations, is going to call for the effects of insolation and temperature changes on the extracted power.
PV cell electrical model
Matlab/Simulink based modeling of the InGaN solar cell
Within this work, we would apply a numerical model to a p-i-n structure consisting of a stack of 150 nm thick n-GaN, 200 nm thick In0.12Ga0.88N/GaN and 100 nm thick p-GaN layers. The study has been conducted considering AM1.5 conditions and using material parameters provided by Brown et al.  and Rabeb et al. .
Photovoltaic parameters of In0.12Ga0.88N p-i-n hetero-junction solar cell structures under 1 sun illumination
Such promising results pushed strongly to go further towards the variation of the physical and environmental conditions in order to behaviorally investigate the InGaN solar cell. For the sake of a realistic and efficient description, the above listed parameters have been changed and their impacts on the cell’s efficiency have been shown next.
Effects of insolation on the PV cell
Thermal effects on the PV cell
Opposite to the insolation effects, the temperature has a drastic impact on the solar cell efficiency. Indeed, when photons hit the PV cell, they deliver their energies to the extracted electrons. These electrons would be, in principle, able to jump over the band gap and pass the photo-created electrons towards the external circuitry. However, some of them lack the required energy to do so. In such case, and due to the thermal agitation, the solar cell heats up and its photovoltaic conversion shows a drop.
The photocurrent shows an increasing trend when temperature gets higher due to the diminution of the InGaN band gap, the output voltage, however, drops down significantly. This trend is basically caused by the reverse variation of the built-in electric field as a function of temperature. This leads to the conclusion that the electrostatic field would exhibit a decreasing tendency as temperature increases.
Effects of the series resistance on the PV cell
The series resistance should be as small as it can be neglected. This still remains a critical issue of solar cells developers. However, in order to come up with a widespread numerical model, its effects have been extensively investigated. Now, it is well argued that the series resistances do not affect neither the short-circuit current, nor the open-circuit voltage of a PV cell [19, 20]. This means that, based on Kirchhoff’s voltage law, in the open-circuit situation, the series resistance is not flowed by any current so that its effects are systematically removed. This implies that the open-circuit voltage is not affected by R s. For the short-circuit, the current I sc that flows between the two terminals of the PV cell is the same current that flows through the series resistance, which means that the series resistance does not affect the short-circuit current of the PV cell.
Effects of the shunt resistance on the PV cell
Matlab/Simulink model for PV modules’ designs
Definitely, the output power of a single PV cell does not exceed few tenths of milliwatts. Such a small output power cannot be utilized in a real device. Therefore, the interconnection of few cells seems to be required in order to achieve a higher output power. PV cells could be interconnected either in series, in parallel or in series parallel. Each configuration has its own impact on the level of the current and/or voltage of the obtained module. In regular cells made up of silicon, the number of cells in a PV module could be 36 or 72 cells upon the required output current/voltage. However, because of the high performance of InGaN/GaN cells and regardless the cost of the material itself, the number of cells should be minimized. Hence, the modules’ size as well as losses could be reduced.
As has been previously claimed, the Matlab/Simulink reveals as a powerful computing tool to model the PV cells in a concordance with the users’ in terms of the voltage/current and power at output. In fact, within a PV module, when cells are associated in series, the current remains the same while the voltage is multiplied by the number of cells. In the case when the PV cells are connected in parallel, the module’s voltage is kept the same as the one of a single cell but the current is multiplied by the number of cells. The third possible configuration is the so-called mixed configuration. In this situation, firstly, cells are connected in series to form a branch, and then branches are connected in parallel. Accordingly, within a single branch, the voltage is multiplied by the number of cells that form the branch. We shall measure this voltage between the two terminals of the PV module. The module’s current is the one that flows through a branch multiplied by the number of branches connected in parallel. Obviously, within the same branch, all of the PV cells are traversed by the same current.
This paper deals with the development of a numerical model of an InGaN p-i-n solar cell under Matlab/Simulink environment. It starts with an extensive outline of the electrical equivalent model based on mathematical equations. Thanks to its high performance on the cell output power, the InGaN physical proprieties have been considered. Moreover, for the sake of a widespread behavioral viewpoint, the environmental disturbances as well as the parasitic components have been taken into consideration. These are, respectively, the shunt and series resistances variations as well as the temperature and the insolation changes. To be aware of the impact of the previously listed parameters, the developed model has been firstly validated by means of a comparison to the experimental results, from one hand, and to the analytical results from the other hand. Such analytical and experimental results have been shown within the body of the paper. Besides, the spontaneous and the piezoelectric polarizations effects have been included within the Matlab/Simulink model. Once the model is validated, it has been extended to form a PV module. In fact, within a module, cells could be interconnected in three different configurations: series, parallel and mixed. The developed model has shown a mature flexibility in such a way, it could be an up-to-date solution in the field of solar photovoltaics modeling.
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