How is an IV Curve used to maximize solar output?

  • Published by
    Jeremy Vickerman

    Jeremy Vickerman

    Content specialist

  • Reviewed by
    Enio Gjoni

    Enio Gjoni

    Sr. Product Owner

14 Mar, 24

Read on to learn what an IV curve is and how it's used in solar plants to ensure panels optimize their output.

Content

What is a Solar IV Curve?

Solar IV Curve definition: A Solar IV Curve is a graphical representation of how a specific solar cell operates. It is used to visualize the relationship between current and voltage under the varying irradiance and temperature conditions. The intensity of the solar radiation, referred to as insolation, that hits the cell controls the current (I), while the increase in the temperature of the solar cell reduces its voltage (V).

The Solar IV Curve plays a crucial part in how solar PV cells are developed and allows us to understand a solar cell device, its ability to convert solar energy, and its efficiency.

IV curve

Source: Alternative Energy Tutorials

Why are Solar IV Curves important?

For a solar PV plant to offer the maximum return on investment, each panel needs to be calibrated to absorb and convert solar energy at the highest efficiency level possible. Using a Solar IV Curve gives engineers the information they need to calibrate panels and achieve peak efficiency. 

The Solar IV Curve can also help identify issues with panels. Modules are tested during the manufacturing process under standard conditions (STC) which is an irradiance of 1000W/m2, a temperature of 25C and an air mass of 1.5. 

When a solar PV system is performing as expected, the IV curve should follow the normal profile. If there are any issues, or the IV curve shows actual power output does not match the predicted value, analysis of the IV curve will help identify the root cause of the issue.

Solar IV curves also play a large part in estimating the actual performance of a solar PV plant. Panels will almost always underperform once installed. A string of solar cells will only provide as much current as the worst-performing cell in the string and the coating of a solar cell will also reduce output. These factors mean that modeling a solar IV curve after installation is essential for determining the actual performance of your plant.


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