PhD: Towards custom PV modules and systems for Agrivoltaics


Agrivoltaics is a combination of PV generation and agriculture deployed on the same location (greenhouses or open fields), avoiding land competition between energy and food production. PV modules can produce clean, renewable, and cost competitive electricity while protecting the crops from excessive irradiation, heat stress, wind, frost, and heavy rain and improve the microclimate conditions. These effects can lead to enhanced crop growing conditions, and can aid in reducing the amount of water needed for irrigation. System-level parameters, components and (if applicable) tracker algorithms should be carefully designed to co-optimize the energy yield and crop growth. Hence, system simulation and optimization will be a key element in the work of the Ph.D. candidate to unlock the full potential of Agrivoltaic systems. The mutual interaction between growing crops and PV generation will need to be modelled to a high level of detail to fully understand the overall system behavior.  The candidate will collaborate with imec’s PV simulation experts to develop new simulation methods tailored to Agrivoltaics that go beyond the state-of-the-art in terms of accuracy. Spectrally resolved ray-tracing and including the seasonal variability of ground-reflectance irradiance (albedo) will be key features to accurately model the energy yield and spectral sensitivity of the photosynthesis. The Ph.D. candidate will further build on imec’s patented physics-based energy yield simulation framework and implement the new Agrivoltaics-specific features. Furthermore, the candidate will be given the opportunity to work on custom PV technologies like semi-transparent c-Si and Perovskite modules, bringing unique properties/features to further improve the economic, energetic, and agronomic system performance. Depending on the background and interest of the candidate, a selection of the following topics can be covered: 

  • Designing and prototyping of custom wafer-based PV modules for Agrivoltaics. 
  • Assessment of the potential of large area semi-transparent Perovskite modules tailored for Agrivoltaics by tuning the bandgap and spectral transmission. 
  • Exploration and development of new concepts and technologies to passively/actively tailor the module transmitted light spectrum to the needs of the crop type and growth cycle. 

The Ph.D. candidate will join imec’s PV technology / Energy Systems group performing world-class research on advanced thin-film and wafer-based technologies at our state-of-the-art research facilities located at the Energyville Campus in Genk. Finally, the candidate will have the unique opportunity to work on these different topics with the support of experienced team members and our industrial partners in multiple bilateral/funded projects.   


Required background: Master’s degree in mechanical/electrical/industrial engineering or physics with a strong background in modelling and simulation of energy systems.

Type of work: 20% literature review, 30% model development,30% experimental work, 20% characterization and modelling.

Supervisor: Jef Poortmans

Co-supervisor: Michael Daenen

Daily advisor: Joris Lemmens, Loic Tous