Thermographic and electrical characterization of a photovoltaic panel under partial shading conditions: a case study

Giovanni Bucci, Fabrizio Ciancetta, Edoardo Fiorucci, Antonio Delle Femine


Shading is one of the most critical factors that produces a reduction in power in photovoltaic (PV) modules. The main causes of shading are related to cloud cover; local specificity; natural characteristics; building and other civil works; and the presence of the PV system itself. A reduction in overall radiation produces a consequent reduction in electric power. Another more problematic effect is associated with the partial shading of the PV modules. The shaded cell behaves as a load, dissipating energy and increasing its temperature. This effect can involve irreversible changes to the PV module, with a decrease in performance that can even cause the destruction of the shaded cell.

The main aim of this work is the development of a testing procedure for the performance evaluation of commercial PV modules in the presence of partial shading on one cell. Tests were carried out using thermographic and electric measurements and by varying the shading levels according to IEC standards. Shading up to total darkening is achieved by means of a number of filters that reduce the direct solar irradiance.

As a case study, a complete characterisation of a 180 Wp polycrystalline PV module was performed according to the proposed testing procedure, showing that high temperatures can be measured on the shaded PV module surface even if only 50 % of the surface of one cell of the PV module is darkened.

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