Solar Energy

Discover the power of solar energy and learn how to design a complete photovoltaic system.

Course Description

In the third edition of Solar Energy, you will learn to design a complete photovoltaic system. This course introduces the technology that converts solar energy into electricity, heat and solar fuels with a main focus on electricity generation. Photovoltaic (PV) devices are presented as advanced semiconductor devices that deliver electricity directly from sunlight. The emphasis is on understanding the working principle of a solar cell, fabrication of solar cells, PV module construction and the design of a PV system. You will gain a greater understanding of the principles of the photovoltaic conversion— the conversion of light into electricity. This course explores the advantages, limitations and challenges of different solar cell technologies, such as crystalline silicon solar cell technology, thin film solar cell technologies and... Read More »

In the third edition of Solar Energy, you will learn to design a complete photovoltaic system. This course introduces the technology that converts solar energy into electricity, heat and solar fuels with a main focus on electricity generation. Photovoltaic (PV) devices are presented as advanced semiconductor devices that deliver electricity directly from sunlight. The emphasis is on understanding the working principle of a solar cell, fabrication of solar cells, PV module construction and the design of a PV system. You will gain a greater understanding of the principles of the photovoltaic conversion— the conversion of light into electricity. This course explores the advantages, limitations and challenges of different solar cell technologies, such as crystalline silicon solar cell technology, thin film solar cell technologies and the latest novel solar cell concepts as studied on lab-scale. We will discuss the specifications of solar modules and demonstrate how to design a complete solar system for any particular application.

Education Method

The class will consist of a collection of eight to twelve minute lecture videos, exercises, assignments and exams. Specified assignments and the three exams will determine the final grade. The new textbook on “Solar Energy, basics, technology and systems” from the Delft University of Technology will be available for the students on-line and free of charge. Your course staff will encourage and challenge you to learn from, and interact with, your fellow students by helping each other and sharing ideas and best practices, in the course forum. We were happy to see the incredible number of interesting student videos on solar energy systems from all over the world in the previous edition of this course.

Professor Smets was the first ever recipient of the edX Prize for Exceptional Contributions to Online Teaching and Learning. His previous online courses attracted over 150,000 students worldwide, who were inspired to take their first steps in the transition to renewable energy.


LICENSE

The course materials of this course are Copyright Delft University of Technology and are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike (CC-BY-NC-SA) 4.0 International License.

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Course Outcomes:
  • The various methods of converting solar energy into electricity, heat and solar fuels
  • The physical working principles of photovoltaic conversion in solar cells
  • How to recognize and describe the various solar cell technologies, their current status and future technological challenges
  • How to analyze the performance of solar cells and modules
  • How to design a complete photovoltaic system for any particular application on paper
Course Details:

Prerequisites

Basic knowledge of physics and mathematical skills, such as integration and differentiation, are preferred.
About Instructor:

Arno Smets - Professor, Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science

Dr. Arno H.M. Smets is Professor in Solar Energy in the Photovoltaics Material and Devices group at the faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science, Delft University of Technology. From 2005-2010 he worked at the Research Center for Photovoltaics at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) in Tsukuba Japan. His research work is focused on processing of thin silicon films, innovative materials and new concepts for photovoltaic applications. He is lecturer for BSc and MSc courses on Photovoltaics and Sustainable Energy at TU Delft. His online edX course on Solar Energy attracted over 150,000 students worldwide. He is co-author of the book “Solar Energy. The physics and engineering of photovoltaic conversion technologies and systems.”

Professor Smets was awarded the first ever edX Prize for Exceptional Contributions to Online Teaching and Learning for his Solar Energy course. To learn more, visit here.


Course Outline

  • Introduction to Solar Energy
  • Assignments
  • Working Principle of a Semiconductor based Solar Cell
  • Assignments
  • Solar Cell Operation, Performance and Design Rules
  • Exam
  • PV technology Based on Crystalline Silicon Wafers
  • Assignments
  • Thin-Film PV technologies
  • Assignments
  • Third Generation PV and Other Ways to Utilize Solar Energy
  • Exam
  • PV Systems-Components and Concepts
  • Assignments
  • PV Systems- Application and Design
  • Exam

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