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The performance of a photovoltaic (PV) array is affected by temperature, solar insolation, shading, and array configuration. Often, the PV arrays get shadowed, completely or partially, by the passing clouds, neighboring buildings and towers, trees, and utility and telephone poles. The situation is of particular interest in case of large PV installations such as those used in distributed power generation schemes. Under partially shaded conditions, the PV characteristics get more complex with multiple peaks. Yet, it is very important to understand and predict them in order to extract the maximum possible power. This paper presents a MATLAB-based modeling and simulation scheme suitable for studying the I-V and P-V characteristics of a PV array under a nonuniform insolation due to partial shading. It can also be used for developing and evaluating new maximum power point tracking techniques, especially for partially shaded conditions. The proposed models conveniently interface with the models of power electronic converters, which is a very useful feature. It can also be used as a tool to study the effects of shading patterns on PV panels having different configurations. It is observed that, for a given number of PV modules, the array configuration (how many modules in series and how many in parallel) significantly affects the maximum available power under partially shaded conditions. This is another aspect to which the developed tool can be applied. The model has been experimentally validated and the usefulness of this research is highlighted with the help of several illustrations. The MATLAB code of the developed model is freely available for download.
Date of Publication: March 2008