Single-Course English 5 ECTS

Photovoltaic systems

Overall Course Objectives

The course gives the student a solid foundation in the engineering concepts used in the design and construction of photovoltaic systems. The student will demonstrate knowledge of the working principles of the individual system components including, cells, modules, electronics and balance of system (BOS) components. The student will become knowledgeable in the entire value chain of photovoltaic (PV) systems from how solar cells and modules are fabricated to how photovoltaic systems are designed. The student will be able to explain the operation, performance, reliability, and economics from small scale residential systems to large scale PV power plants. Upon completion of this course the student will be able to design and model the energy and financial performance of a photovoltaic power system.

Learning Objectives

  • Explain the physical principles of photovoltaic energy conversion in solar cells
  • Sketch fabrication of solar cells and modules
  • Estimate the cell to module losses in the design of PV modules
  • Describe the working principles of the constituent components in a photovoltaic energy system;
  • Apply concepts in solar radiation and solar geometry to calculate irradiance on transposed surfaces
  • Estimate the shading and solar resource at a given site
  • Model and design grid-connected residential PV and PV-powerplants systems using industry standard software
  • Apply financial models and metrics (LCOE, NPV) to evaluate the economic feasibility of a PV project
  • Optimize the design of a PV system
  • Describe the factors that contribute to a photovoltaic system’s reliability and lifetime
  • Explain O&M principles and prescribe appropriate fault detection methods for photovoltaic power plants
  • Identify the many applications and uses of photovoltaic power systems

Course Content

The course will explain the principle components within photovoltaic systems, how they work and how they interact within the system. The course will start by discussing the nature of the solar resource and then move into the fundamentals of solar cell physics where it will be explained how solar cells convert light to electricity and how they are manufactured. Subsequently, the course will cover topics in PV modules, including their design, fabrication, characterization and durability. Next, the course covers how to interface PV modules with power electronics where the working principles of PV electronics will be explained. Further into the course the most common power loss and degradation mechanisms found in fielded systems will be presented. These topics are finally combined and applied where the student will conduct group exercises covering PV system dimensioning, energy yield predictions, and economic calculations.

Recommended prerequisites

Physics 1, Physics 2 or similar, and Math 1.

Teaching Method

Lectures, theoretical exercises, and group project work.



Sune Thorsteinsson, Sergiu Spataru

See course in the course database.





13 weeks




DTU Lyngby Campus

Course code 34552
Course type Candidate
Semester start Week 5
Semester end Week 19
Days Thurs 8-12

7.500,00 DKK