Solar Photovoltaics

Harnessing the energy of the sun is a very attractive approach to meeting our energy needs. There are a range of converter technologies such as solar collectors (for hot water), solar concentrators (for thermal electricity generation) and photovoltaics (PV). PV is an elegant solution, a converter with no moving parts, which is has a long lifetime (25 years + for mono-crystalline silicon) and minimal maintenance burden (dc side of a system). PV may be applied as either a grid connected or off-grid, standalone system. Standalone systems are usually employed in developing countries to provide lighting, refrigeration or power for communication systems. PV is competing with diesel generators in these applications which have high maintenance, fuel and supply costs. Grid connected PV offers the potential for energy generation at the point of use in urban environments or large scale solar plants in solar resource rich locations such as southern Spain and California. In terms of microgeneration in the built environment, the potential energy yield from PV is perhaps the easiest to predict. Roofs and facades offer large areas at suitable inclinations / orientations.


‘Development and Mini-Grid in Rural Africa’ was the Energy for Development’s (e4D) first dissemination conference successfully held 11 – 12 May 2015, in Nairobi, Kenya. The conference was well attended with over 130 registrants including academics, project developers, governmental officials, private sector contractors, students, project financiers as well as other stakeholders operating in the field of […]


The three buttons on the top right corner of the map can be used to “Search”, “Filter”, and “Change basemap”.   Results are obtained based on simulation model developed by Sustainable Energy Research Group, University of Southampton, with courtesy to Southampton City Council, who has provided some of the original building data. All rights reserved.


17th December, 2014

Theme: ‘District Energy Supply within Cities’ Date: 22-29 March 2015 Venue: University of Southampton


The villages of Bambouti in Cameroon and Oloika in Kenya’s rift valley are set for electrification through PV array’s by the E4D team and partners. Baseline data has been collected and the villages will undergo installation in the coming months. Oloika, Kenya On a recent trip to Kenya, the E4D team, along with members of […]


The group’s research is looking at existing housing developments from the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and 2000s to determine the scope and potential impact of microgeneration technologies and energy efficiency measures on the residential scale. Microgeneration options assessed include: Photovoltaics Micro wind power Solar thermal systems for domestic hot water CHP (combined heat and power) at […]


Acheiving low cost, non-toxic, high efficiency, high throughput solar cells is the ultimate challenge for the solar energy industry. Traditional glass laminate crystalline silicon solar cells offer relatively high efficiency (up to 20%) but are an expensive product. At SERG research and development of low cost sputtered amorphous silicon solar cells on flexible substrates is […]


Residential grid connected PV systems are relatively simple to design with easy to predict annual yields. However, the headline economics of residential PV in the UK are at present unattractive. A typical small residential PV system (1 to 3 kWp) as shown in the top figure would cost in the year 2000 around £4,500 per […]


The University of Southampton has three permanently grid connected PV systems on its Highfield Campus designed and serviced by the Sustainable Energy Research Group. The installed capacity of these three facilities is about 20 kWp: (a) George Thomas Building – 12.2 kWp atrium (b) Building 2 – 7.2 kWp vertical façade (c) Eustice Building – […]


Silicon wafer solar cells have a low working voltage (~0.5 V) and so must be connected electrically in series to become useful. A ‘standard’ PV module consists of 36 cells in series, producing a maximum power point voltage of ~18 V suitable for charging a 12 V dc battery with a charge regulator. Grid connected […]


Background Photovoltaic modules have no moving parts and last upwards of 25 years with no maintenance aside from the occasional cleaning. Realising such a long lifetime for entire PV systems relies on the continued integrity of all system components. The installation of modules in building facades and other structures has necessitated the use of push […]