Improved Power Electronics Models for Photovoltaic Energy Yield and Lifetime Simulations Considering Dynamic Shading Conditions.


Photovoltaics (PV) Everywhere is not just a slogan, it is becoming reality. Vehicle integrated PV (VIPV), Building integrated PV (BIPV), Infrastructure integrated PV (IIPV) and combinations of PV plants with on- and offshore wind turbine parks are popping up everywhere.

The rapid growth of renewable electricity systems, including the solar modules and power electronics converters, necessitates accurate modeling and simulation tools to evaluate their performance over their entire lifetime and optimize their energy production. Power electronics, converting the variable dc voltage to a stable interface voltage, play a crucial role in these systems, they facilitate maximum power point tracking (MPPT), voltage stabilisation and safe operation of the PV system. To enhance the accuracy of energy yield predictions and optimize system designs, integrating precise power electronics models into advanced simulation frameworks is essential. In this regard, Imec develops elaborate simulation tools that can accurately predict the energy yield of photovoltaic (PV) systems for different applications.  

Rapid changes in environmental conditions and energy demand impact the performance and energy yield of photovoltaic (PV) systems. When subjected to rapid transitions from sunlight to shade, a common scenario in automotive applications, or locations near wind farms, the PV system's performance undergoes transient responses, altering its energy output. During these transitions, the power electronic converters must quickly adjust their conversion settings to maintain stability and meet the demand. The effectiveness of this adjustment directly influences the overall energy yield, with a slower response resulting in energy loss and reduced efficiency, and potentially even damage to the modules due to internal voltage transients. In this regard, the accurate modeling of power electronics and its integration with the energy yield simulation model is essential to capture the dynamic response of the system to shading events, which enhances the prediction accuracy.  

In this topic, we aim at integrating power electronics circuits, component and control models into the simulation framework to enable a comprehensive system simulation, encompassing all critical aspects of PV systems, with a focus on dynamic shading conditions. This yields a challenging multi-time scale approach as the individual parts operate at different bandwidth ranges (e.g. transistor switching vs. slow shadows). Additionally, we want to investigate different approaches of power electronics modeling (physics-based/ data-driven/ hybrid) and compare them, where the most optimal approach in terms of accuracy and computational time will be selected.

Moreover, as power levels change rapidly due to dynamic shading, power electronic components will experience an increased thermal stress. To be precise, heating, and cooling cycles caused by rapid changes in power dissipation cause thermo-mechanical stress and potentially result in thermal fatigue in the power device, cracking, or other forms of physical degradation. Hence, in this topic, another goal is to assess reliability of power electronic converters considering mission profiles (irradiance, temperature) with dynamic shading.  

The project will be conducted in an interdisciplinary and multicultural team of highly skilled scientists and engineers that work towards the next generation of PV technology. The research will be conducted in the newly built laboratories at EnergyVille, Genk, working in one of the world’s premier research centers in nanotechnology.


Required background: Master of engineering technology, Master of Physics

Type of work: 60% experimental, 30% modeling, 10% literature

Supervisor: Johan Driesen

Co-supervisor: Michael Daenen

Daily advisor: Arnaud Morlier