System design procedures, and longterm performance assessment of solar photovoltaic power plants in sunbelt countries

Photovoltaics (PV), also known as solar electricity, is the direct conversion on sunlight into electrical energy, with no moving parts, no noise and no greenhouse gas emissions, and tapping on the virtually inexhaustible source of energy from the sun. With the declining costs of solar PV technologies, which resulted from a number of incentive programmes sparked by the German efforts beginning in the early 1990s, solar electricity generation is reaching economic viability in many electricity markets worldwide. In warm and sunny countries like Brazil, a more widespread use of PV generation is only now building momentum, and PV system design procedures, PV plant performance assessment and energy forecast techniques developed in Europe are often being directly applied without considering the local peculiarities. The solar resource distribution and spectral content characteristics of sunlight, the different PV device operating temperatures, and the effects of other related climatic conditions including the effects of soiling directly and diversely affect the performance of the various commercially-available PV technologies. In this project, we aim at combining the extensive experience accumulated over the past decades by researchers at the Fraunhofer Institut für Solare Energiesysteme (Fraunhofer ISE) in Germany, with the knowledge developed at Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina in Brazil since the design and installation of the first grid-connected PV generator in the country in 1997 (donated by the AvH-Stiftung as part of a follow-up grant upon the return of the applicant to Brazil), to compare and evaluate design and performance assessment methods for the successful long-term operation of PV plants in sunbelt countries. The working program includes a workshop in Brazil and short-term research visits of Brazilian researchers at the Fraunhofer ISE in Freiburg, and of German researchers at both the UFSC Solar laboratory in Florianopolis-Brazil, and at selected research sites related to solar PV plants in the context of current UFSC R&D projects scattered over various climatic regions in Brazil.