Efficiency Improvement of Photovoltaic Solar Modules by Cooling Using an Underground Heat Exchanger

Valiente-Blanco, Ignacio; Lopez-Pascual, Diego; Diaz-Villar, Pablo; Mallol-Poyato, Ricardo; Barragan, Alberto; Ocaña, Manuel; Granello, Guido; Diez-Jimenez, Efren
Year: 2022
Type of Publication: Article
Journal: Journal of Solar Energy Engineering
Volume: 144
Number: 6
Pages: 061015
Month: 09
ISSN: 0199-6231
DOI: 10.1115/1.4055299
Overheating of solar cells under normal operational conditions highly reduces their energy harvesting efficiency and produces additional problems related to thermal cycling and performance degradation of the modules. In this paper, a novel cooling system for solar photovoltaics, using the underground as a heat sink, is proposed, theoretically described and experimentally validated. A prototype of the technology (including a single-axis sun tracking mechanism) has been designed, manufactured, and rigorously tested in outdoor conditions during summer 2021 in Spain, under different environmental conditions. The excess heat is removed from the backside of the solar module by a close-loop and single-phase cooling system and then dissipated in the underground, which is at a constant temperature of about 16 °C at relatively low depths at the location where tests were performed. A single U-shaped copper tube, 18 mm in diameter, immersed in a 15.5-m-deep borehole naturally filled with water, is used as an underground heat exchanger. As a consequence of the reduction of the cooled module temperature, its net power generation is significantly increased. A promising improvement of the net power generation of the cooled solar module up to 12.4\\% has been measured for a coolant flowrate of 1.84 l/min per square meter of solar module, proving the technical feasibility of the approach. In addition, a dependency of the power gain with the pump efficiency, the global radiation, and ambient temperature has been observed.
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