Electricity from Sunlight: An Introduction to Photovoltaics / Edition 1

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A lively and authoritative account of today’s photovoltaic (PV) technology and its practical applications

This book covers areas including:

  • a brief history of PV, and the current international scene;
  • the scientific principles of solar cells including silicon and new thin-film varieties;
  • PV modules and arrays;
  • grid-connected PV, from home systems up to large power plants;
  • the wide diversity of stand-alone PV systems, and;
  • the economic and environmental aspects of solar electricity.

Key equations and numerical examples are fully discussed, providing essential theoretical background. The text is supported by copious illustrations and more than eighty inspiring full colour photographs from around the world to demonstrate PV’s huge range of practical applications.

This book is aimed at a wide readership including professionals working in related areas, and students taking introductory courses in PV and renewable energy. Its style and level will also appeal to energy planners and decision makers, members of environmental organisations, and the increasing number of people interested in generating their own electricity from sunlight.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Electricity from sunlight is a very useful primer for beginning students of photovoltaic technology.  Lynn, an expert in the field with a broad background in industry and academia, has the ability to explain complex ideas in clear language and with minimal mathematics." (CHOICE, January 2011)

"Is a must read for any housebuilder wanting to wanting to know more about this 'hot topic'." (Professional Housebuilder & Property Developer, 1 November 2010)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780470745601
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 5/25/2010
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 238
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Paul A. Lynn obtained his BSc(Eng) and PhD degrees in electrical engineering from Imperial College London. After several years in the electronics industry he lectured at Imperial College and the University Bristol. In 1993 he was appointed founding Managing Editor of the Wiley international journal Progress in Photovoltaics: Research and Applications, which he managed for 14 years. His previous publications include 5 textbooks, more than 50 technical papers and articles, and 2 short books on English country pubs. In his spare time Paul maintains a strong interest in environmental matters and is a long-time member of Friends of the Earth. He has designed and built three prize-winning solar catamarans and in 2003 he and his wife Ulrike made the first-ever solar powered voyages along the entire River Thames from Gloucestershire to London.

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Table of Contents

About the Author



1. Introduction 1

1.1 The Sun, Earth, and Renewable Energy 1

1.2 The Solar Resource 6

1.3 The Magic of Photovoltaics 10

1.4 A Piece of History 12

1.5 Coming up to Date 17

References 23

2. Solar Cells 25

2.1 Setting the Scene 25

2.2 Crystalline Silicon 29

2.2.1 The Ideal Crystal 29

2.2.2 The p-n Junction 32

2.2.3 Monocrystalline Silicon 35 Photons in Action 35 Generating Power 38 Sunlight, Silicon, and Quantum Mechanics 43 Refining the Design 46

2.2.4 Multicrystalline Silicon 54

2.3 Amorphous and Thin-film Silicon 55

2.4 Other Cells and Materials 61

2.4.1 Copper Indium Diselenide (CIS) 61

2.4.2 Cadmium Telluride (Cdlb) 65

2.4.3 Specialised and Innovative Cells 66 Gallium Arsenide (GaAs) 66 Dye-sensitised Cells 69

References 72

3. PV Modules and Arrays 73

3.1 Introductory 73

3.2 Electrical Performance 76

3.2.1 Connecting Cells and Modules 76

3.2.2 Module Parameters 80

3.3 Capturing Sunlight 84

3.3.1 Sunshine and Shadow 84

3.3.2 Aligning the Array 88

3.4 Concentration and Tracking 94

References 102

4. Grid-connected PV Systems 103

4.1 Introductory 103

4.2 From DC to AC 105

4.3 Completing the System 112

4.4 Building-integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) 114

4.4.1 Engineering and Architecture 114

4.4.2 PV Outside, PV Inside 118

4.5 Large PV Power Plants 128

References 131

5. Stand-alone PV Systems 133

5.1 Remote and Independent 133

5.2 System Components 137

5.2.1 Batteries 137

5.2.2 Charge Controllers 141

5.2.3 Inverters 148

5.3 Hybrid Systems 152

5.4 System Sizing 155

5.4.1 Assessing the Problem 155

5.4.2 PV Arrays and Battery Banks 159

5.5 Applications 165

5.5.1 PV in Space 165

5.5.2 Island Electricity 170

5.5.3 PV Water Pumping 175

5.5.4 Solar-powered Boats 180

5.5.5 Far and Wide 186

References 190

6. Economics and the Environment 191

6.1 Paying for PV 191

6.1.1 Costs and Markets 191

6.1.2 Financial Incentives 197

6.1.3 Rural Electrification 200

6.2 Environmental Aspects 206

6.2.1 Raw Materials and Land 206

6.2.2 Life-cycle Analysis 210

References 215

Index 217

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