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PV3x Solar Energy Engineering: Photovoltaic Systems


1. Introduction
1.1 Course overview
1.2. Learning objectives
1.3. What we expect from you
1.4. What you can expect from us/the course team
2. Course structure
3. ID Verified
4. Assessment & deadlines
5. Resources & Tools

1. Introduction

In this course you will learn how to turn solar cells into solar modules and how solar modules are used to make photovoltaic systems.

The course will cover the design of photovoltaic systems, ranging from utility scale solar farms to residential scale systems stand alone and grid connected systems. You will learn about the function and operation of various PV system components, including inverters, batteries, DC-DC converters and the grid. You will obtain an in-depth understanding of the main design decisions for planning a PV installation with excellent performance and reliability.

Finally, you will model the performance of a PV system for different solar energy applications and calculate the potential energy production of a client's system.

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1.1. Course overview

This course is part of the Solar Energy Engineering MicroMasters Program designed to cover all physics and engineering aspects of photovoltaics: photovoltaic energy conversion, technologies and systems. Even though this course can be completed as a stand-alone course, you can benefit from taking PV1x and the PV2x prior to taking this course.

This course PV3x: Photovoltaic Energy Conversion is one of the 5 courses in the MicroMasters Solar Energy Engineering. The course is designed to be completed within 11 weeks, if you devote around 10 hours per week to the course. The level of the course is graduate level and the course is English spoken. 

To enjoy all the extra features opportunities offered by this course, and be able to obtain a certificate at the end, you can upgrade to the ID verified status. More information can be found in the ID-verified section of the syllabus. A Solar Energy Engineering MicroMasters Program Leaflet is also available.

1.2. Learning objectives

By the end of this course you will be able to:

  • Estimate the effects of the position of the sun and solar irradiance on PV module performance
  • Understand the design and function of the different components of a PV-system: PV modules, inverters, DC-DC converters, batteries, charge controllers and cables
  • Design a PV-system, ranging from a residential rooftop system to a utility scale solar farm
  • Understand the economics and ecology of PV-systems

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1.3. What we expect from you

As an online student we expect you to be an active participant in this course, contributing to a positive atmosphere by questioning, sharing and helping out others, engaging in meaningful discussions where knowledge construction is revealed. We encourage people to post their question or discussions related to lectures, questions and assignments in the specific Discussions you'll find each week.

Please be aware that it's extremely important to follow the forum and collaboration guidelines, to respect the course policies and academic integrity.

Regarding deadlines, we expect you to keep on track in order to benefit from learning within a community. This course is meant to be a place where you learn with and from others. In this sense, we'd like you to experience collaboration and peer-feedback, so please make sure you follow with other participants in order to enrich the overall learning experience.

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1.4. What you can expect from us/the course team

The e-Moderator and Lecturers will guide you throughout the course, launching the weekly content, promoting and engaging in discussions. Guidance and support will happen on a regular basis, mainly every day.

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2. Course structure

The course is organized in 5 parts, divided over 8 weeks of content, plus 3 additional weeks for the final exam and resit.  A brief summary of each week is presented below.

Getting started 

In the getting started section you’ll get to know the course structure, get familiarized with the virtual learning environment, meet your fellow students and the e-moderator. These introductory activities should be completed in the beginning of the course, before you start with week 1.

:: Part 1. Introduction ::

Week 1. Introduction

1.1 Introduction

:: Part 2. Location Issues ::

Week 2. Location Issues

2.1 Introduction to Location Issues
2.2 Sun Movement
2.3 Tilt Angle
2.4 Landscape Survey
2.5 Advanced Irradiance Modelling

:: Part 3. PV Modules ::

Week 3. PV Modules I

3.1 PV Module Design
3.2 Interconnection Techniques
3.3 Electrical Properties

Week 4. PV Modules II

4.1 Temperature Effects
4.2 Mounting Issues
4.3 Reliability and I-V Tests

:: Part 4. Balance of System Components ::

Week 5. MPPT - Cables - Batteries

5.1 Maximum Power Point Tracking
5.2 Cables and Batteries

Week 6. Electrical Conversion components

6.1 DC-DC Converters
6.2 Inverter Concepts and Topologies
6.3 Inverter Grounding and Efficiency

:: Part 5. System Design and Integration ::

Week 7. PV System Design

7.1 Introduction to System Design
7.2 Simple System Design
7.3 Complex System Design
7.4 Grid Connect System Design
7.5 Stand Alone System Design

Week 8. Grid Integration and Finances

8.1 Grid Integration Issues
8.2 Financial Aspects of PV

Practice Exam

Weeks 9 - END. Exam 

Final Exam, proctored for ID verified learners.

Week 10- END. Exam Resit 

Final Exam Resit, proctored for ID verified learners.

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3. ID verified

If you're interested in a certificate you need to pass the proctored exam. These certificates will indicate you have successfully completed the course, but will not include a specific grade. Certificates will be issued by edX under the name of DelftX, designating the institution from which the course originated.

You can get access to the proctored exam by an upgrade to a Verified Certificate. Upgrading to Verified Certificate gives you access to the ☀ MicroMasters Community. ☀ MicroMasters Community members have access to the proctored exam, a discussion forum for the exam and an exclusive dedicated forum for additional support during the course.

Generating an ID verified certificate

In order to qualify for a certificate, you must achieve a total grade of 65% or higher (for more information please read 4. Assessment & Deadlines). An ID verified Certificate of Achievement is available for $250. You can Upgrade on your edX Dashboard to Verified during the course.

This PV1x course offers on-demand certificates, allowing you to generate your own certificate as soon as you qualify. Certificates can be downloaded from your Student Dashboard (look for the Download button next to the name of our course). For more information on downloading your on-demand certificate, go to the corresponding page of the edX learner's guide

Once produced, a certificate cannot be reissued, hence it is very important that you verify the way in which your name appears. Check that, in your account, your name is correctly spelled, since it will appear on the final certificate.

MicroMasters Program Details

PV3x Photovoltaic Systems is part of the Solar Energy Engineering MicroMasters program.  You can earn the MicroMasters credential by completing and successfully earning a Verified Certificate in all 4 courses plus the Capstone project.

If you successfully earn the MicroMasters Credential and decide to apply to the Master of Science program Sustainable Energy Technology (SET) or the Master of Science program Electrical Engineering (track: Electrical Power Engineering) at TU Delft, you will need to go through the regular admission procedures for MSc students and meet the entry requirements for those MSc programs.

If you are admitted and you would like to be exempted from courses in the aforementioned MSc programs, you are required to send a formal waiver request. Campus courses that can be waived (up to 16-18 credits) are courses that are equivalent to the solar energy courses of the MSc program in question.

You can find more information about the merits of the MicroMasters programme , the MicroMasters Credential and the job outlook here.

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In order to successfully complete the course you need to score 65% or more in the final grade. All assignments count towards the final grade. The Proctored Exam will be released after you complete the Practice Exam with a minimum score of 60%. The purpose of this requirement is to help you prepare for the Proctored Exam. The exact weight of the different assignments is as follows:

  • Weekly Exercises: 10%
  • System Design Assignments 10%
  • Proctored Exam: 80%

The course ends November 13, 2019 at 23:59 UTC. All Weekly Exercises and the Exam resit are due on this date.

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5. Resources & Tools

This course makes use of the book "Solar Energy, the physics and engineering of photovoltaic conversion technologies and systems" written by the TU Delft staff from the Photovoltaic Material and Devices (PVMD) department,  and published at UIT Cambridge.  We are happy to announce that the e-book is available for free in the online bookstores. You can order a hard copy as well at the online retailers for typical prices ranging from $25 up to $32.

Solar Energy Book cover

Moreover, you will find plenty of instructional videos each week. These videos (available in 360p, 720p or 1080p) including the subtitles, the transcripts and the slides used can be downloaded through the links below the videos.  

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