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My Visit to NCPRE – National Centre for PV Research & Education, IIT Bombay


I had been to NCPRE at IIT Bombay, about a month back.

Had been intending to do this for almost a year, and finally did.

It was an interesting two hour experience.

Firstly, I must say I was quite impressed by the extent of interest taken for my visit by the IIT Bombay staff attached to NCPRE . The co-ordinator (Smita Bhattacharya) kept in touch with me almost from the time I landed in the rain-drenched Mumbai early morning until the time I completed a guided tour of all their facilities.

Thank you once again and hats off for the attitude.

The other person I would like to thank is Saravanan, who took time off from his work and gave me a thorough guided tour of the cell fabrication and the cell testing sections.

Thank you indeed, Saravanan.

Finally, I was also impressed by the extent of enthusiasm and attitude shown by the young researchers and faculty at the module facility who provided me with detailed explanations on the types of evaluations they were making at the facility and patiently answered all my questions.

Key Learning from My Visit

1. Encouraging to see useful investments into solar PV research, and also encouraging to see industry professionals, and not just academics, being engaged for this research.

2. Good amount of outdoor, real life testing and evaluation in addition to lab-based testing

3. Excellent infrastructure to monitor and evaluate results from a variety of solar power plants

Introduction to the NCPRE

The National Centre for Photovoltaic Research and Education (NCPRE) at IIT Bombay was launched in 2010 and is a part of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission of the Government of India.

The objective of the centre is to be the one of the leading Photovoltaic (PV) research and education centres in the world within the next decade. NCPRE aims to create and execute the blueprint for human resource development for PV in India.

Objectives

The centre envisages both basic and applied research activities. The basic research activities include silicon solar cell fabrication, characterization, energy storage, new materials and novel PV structures. Development of power electronic interfaces for solar PV systems, new product designs, technology assessment and broader issues like sociological and environmental impact are an important part of the activities of the centre.

Eventually, NCPRE aims to make solar PV a cost-effective and relevant technology for meeting a significant part of the energy needs of India.

Specific Objectives Include the following:

The NCPRE will focus broadly on education and research in the area of solar Photovoltaics. The objectives of NCPRE are categorized in three themes:

1. Education and Training including INPUP

For the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) to succeed, the availability of trained manpower is a prerequisite. NCPRE aims to provide the framework to meet this need.

  • Design and run appropriate UG & post-graduate programmes in PV at IIT Bombay
  • Create appropriate course modules, including laboratory modules, which can be replicated at other institutions and universities
  • Train teachers at other institutions and universities
  • Design and run special programmes (including certificate-level and diploma programmes) for industry personnel on a part-time basis
  • Run short-term continuing education programmes for industry personnel
  • Train master trainers for teaching technicians
  • Provide access to a running fabrication and characterization facilities for researchers and industry users

2. Research

The broad objectives are the following:

  • Setting up full-fledged facility for fabrication of c-Si solar cells
  • Fabrication of c-Si solar cells with more than 20% cell efficiency
  • Technology transfer to industry leading to enhancement of production level cell efficiency
  • Development of innovative concepts in thin film photovoltaic technology for production cost reduction and enhanced reliability.
  • Deployment in rural areas
  • Assessment of PV technologies and foresight

3. Characterization, Simulation and Modeling

The objective of proposed theme is to provide infrastructural support to accelerate photovoltaic research and development at material, cell, and module and system level by modeling, simulation and characterization.

Characterization is major part of this theme, which is required in following role

  • Determination of the causes of problems
  • Increasing yield
  • Optimization of processes for reducing cost and process time
  • Increasing life of PV product
  • Testing, reliability and performance will also be covered under characterization task which are required to understand degradation in solar cells and modules to improve life of product. Some novel and improved characterization techniques will also be realized to meet the demand of in-line characterization and to evaluate parameters which have direct impact on cell and module efficiency.
  • A state of art modeling simulation, characterization and analysis facility for photovoltaic research and training is proposed under this theme
    • The facilities are meant to extent an arm of support to Indian PV companies and other research institutes pursuing research in PV. It will provide basic support to photovoltaic research and production in India, as characterization plays a pivotal role in PV research which is essential in realizing the breadth of new technologies on the horizon and to improve the existing technologies to its maximum limit in order to lower the cost. Numbers of characterization techniques are planned at each level (materials, cells, module)

Solar PV Laboratory Kits Available at NCPRE

As a part of education and activity, NCPRE conducted ‘Teach 1000 teachers Training Program.’ The laboratory kit was developed for this workshop as experiments are helpful to enforce the concepts taught during the lecture hours. The Laboratory kit was found very useful for training manpower and therefore, MNRE has funded NCPRE’s effort to provide complementary laboratory kits to colleges running courses in Solar PV or Renewable Energy.

Contents of Solar PV Lab Kits:

The kit is designed using the easily available components. A total of five numbers of solar PV Lab Kits are provided, out of these five; two kits have I.P registration as mentioned below:

  • PV Module Characterization Kit
  • PV Cell Characterization Kit (IP application 3719/MUM/2011 dated 30/12/2011)
  • PV System Characterization Kit
  • Lifetime Measurement Kit
  • Spectral Response Measurement Kit (I.P application 2869/MUM/2012 dated 28/9/12)

Experiments that can be performed by each of the Solar PV Lab kits are provided below.

1. PV Module Characterization Kit

  • Identifying and measuring the parameters of a solar PV module in the field
  • Series and Parallel Connection of PV modules
  • Estimating the effect of sun tracking on energy generation by solar PV modules

2. PV System Characterization Kit

  • Efficiency measurement of Standalone Solar PV System
  • Measurement of current – voltage characteristics of crystalline silicon solar cell

a) Measurement by using 4 quadrant power supply and solar cell as load i) in dark and ii) under illumination.

b) Measurement by using solar cell as power source under illumination

3. PV Cell Characterization Kit

Measurement of current-voltage characteristics of two solar cells connected

a) in series and b) in parallel.

Dependence of current- voltage characteristics of crystalline silicon solar cell on

a) light intensity and b) temperature of solar cell

4. Lifetime Measurement Kit

  • Carrier lifetime in a solar cell

5. Spectral Response Meter

  • Spectral response measurement and quantum efficiency measurements

6. Simulation Experiments – Open Source Solar cell and solar modules modeling and simulation program:

PC1D for solar cell simulation (freeware)

PC1D is the commercially available solar cell modeling program. It is used to simulate device performance and to develop an understanding of device physics related to solar cells and other similar semiconductor devices. PC1D is now available as an open source and can be downloaded from the Link: Click Here

Sequel for circuit simulation (freeware)

 

Also another modeling program called SEQUEL (A Solver for circuit EQuations with User-defined ELements) is used for modeling of the solar cell arrays and solar modules. It is a general purpose simulation package developed at IIT Bombay and available as open source. It can be downloaded from following link

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Narasimhan Santhanam

Thank you for reading this post – hope it was helpful. You can connect with me at narsi@solarmango.com . My detailed profile here and my LinkedIn profile here

Posted in: Colleges, Energy Education, Innovations, Mumbai, Solar Photovoltaic

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