This paper proposes a new thermography-based maximum power point tracking (MPPT) scheme to address photovoltaic (PV) partial shading faults. Solar power generation utilizes a large number of PV cells connected in series and in parallel in an array, and that are physically distributed across a large field. When a PV module is faulted or partial shading occurs, the PV system sees a nonuniform distribution of generated electrical power and thermal profile, and the generation of multiple maximum power points (MPPs). If left untreated, this reduces the overall power generation and severe faults may propagate, resulting in damage to the system. In this paper, a thermal camera is employed for fault detection and a new MPPT scheme is developed to alter the operating point to match an optimized MPP. Extensive data mining is conducted on the images from the thermal camera in order to locate global MPPs. Based on this, a virtual MPPT is set out to find the global MPP. This can reduce MPPT time and be used to calculate the MPP reference voltage. Finally, the proposed methodology is experimentally implemented and validated by tests on a 600-W PV array.
- energy efficiency
- partial shading
- fault diagnosis
- maximum power point tracking (MPPT)
- photovoltaics (PVs)