Modelling sun-tracking PV systems installed on uneven terrain

Genk - Master projects/internships
More than two weeks ago

Join the energy transition: tackle the challenges of real-life PV systems design with advanced computing

Photovoltaic (PV) solar panels provide a very attractive solution for future clean energy. However, the deployment of PV systems is strongly driven by the levelized cost of electricity (LCoE). Therefore, IMEC is developing PV technologies with additional or novel components and/or novel cell architectures to improve energy yield and thereby reduce LCoE. Recently, sun-tracking PV systems gain increasing attention as they are able to generate more energy on a given land area. The reported power gain is in the order of 25%. However, the energy production gain under outdoor conditions depends on a large number of parameters e.g. climate conditions, installation parameters and the terrain topography itself. It is known that installing sun-tracking systems on uneven terrain poses the risk of row-to-row shading and as solar cells are connected in series, the energy yield of these systems is affected by mismatch losses. Consequently, the current practice is to declare sites with uneven terrain as not suitable for sun-tracking installations, strongly limiting the deployment of this promising technology.

The present project uses the PV Energy Yield modelling framework developed at IMEC to derive site-specific sun tracking rules, which result in maximum energy yield for tracked PV systems. Ultimately, bifacial sun tracking PV modules will be considered, which receive light from both front and back panel surfaces, therefore generating an additional 5-10% extra energy. The candidate will model outdoor sun-tracking PV installations under real climatic conditions in order to maximize energy production. This involves performing optical, thermal and electrical simulations using IMEC's framework, to capture the main mechanisms of the energy conversion process. Working on this subject will allow the candidate to strengthen his/her skills in PV electricity generation, PV power plant design, programming in Matlab and/or Python; high performance computing; thermal, electrical and optical modelling, data processing and visualization. The results of the study will contribute to the development of a rising PV technology, which will undoubtedly play an important role in the green energy transition.

Type of project: Internship; Combination of internship and thesis

Duration: minimum 4 months

Required degree: Master of Engineering Technology; Master of Science; Master of Engineering Science

Required background: Computer Science; Electrotechnics/Electrical Engineering; Energy; Physics

Supervising scientist: For further information or for application, please contact Imre T Horvath (

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