Performance and efficiency measurements of outdoor PV systems
Founded in 2008, EKO Instruments Europe B.V. is a European centre of competence, offering products and services to the photovoltaic industry. The heart of its work is related to the provision of highly accurate and reliable solar radiation measurement equipment for outdoor use, as company Director, Dr Los, explains...
Solar radiation is not only the driving force behind the earth's weather phenomena, it also drives photovoltaic energy production. One day of solar energy received by the Earth exceeds the amount of worldwide energy consumption per year. Exploring this merely inexhaustible source of energy -either by direct transformation of radiant energy into electricity or by indirect energy production via wind, waves, etc. - seems to be the obvious way to go.
In this context, the measurement of solar radiation is of primary interest for applications related to photovoltaic power production, such as site-specific solar resource assessments, PV performance evaluation, solar resource forecasting, and so on. For example, the planning and operation of an efficient photovoltaic power system requires many environmental parameters, such as radiation maps, site location and topography, horizon and shadowing, meteorological conditions, as well as module technology and other electrical module parameters.
EKO Instruments develops and manufactures specialised photovoltaic efficiency monitoring equipment for indoor and outdoor applications. These EKO products allow PV cell and module builders to acquire in-depth knowledge about the performance of their products, not only at STC conditions (footnote: Standard Test Conditions, see IEC 60904) but also under real outdoor measurement conditions. Various institutions started to measure real outdoor PV module performances many years ago.
While at that time the number of robust and stable module types was rather limited, it revealed many important insights that could be used in newer generations of modules to make them more stable and more efficient under realistic outdoor measurement conditions. Nowadays, the demand for reliable and accurate outdoor PV performance assessments is larger than ever before. In the highly competitive module market, module manufacturers want to demonstrate the real-world performance and durability of their products to point out their competitive advantage.