Photovoltaic-Electrolyzer System Transient Simulation Results

[+] Author and Article Information
R. W. Leigh, P. D. Metz, K. Michalek

Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, N.Y. 11973

J. Sol. Energy Eng 108(2), 89-94 (May 01, 1986) (6 pages) doi:10.1115/1.3268086 History: Received May 01, 1984; Online November 11, 2009


Brookhaven National Laboratory has developed a Hydrogen Technology Evaluation Center to illustrate advanced hydrogen technology. The first phase of this effort investigated the use of solar energy to produce hydrogen from water via photovoltaic-powered electrolysis. A coordinated program of system testing, computer simulation, and economic analysis has been adopted to characterize and optimize the photovoltaic-electrolyzer system. This paper presents the initial transient simulation results. Innovative features of the modeling include the use of real weather data, detailed hourly modeling of the thermal characteristics of the PV array and of system control strategies, and examination of systems over a wide range of power and voltage ratings. The transient simulation system TRNSYS was used, incorporating existing, modified or new component subroutines as required. For directly coupled systems, we found the PV array voltage which maximizes hydrogen production to be quite near the nominal electrolyzer voltage for a wide range of PV array powers. The array voltage which maximizes excess electricity production is slightly higher. The use of an ideal (100 percent efficient) maximum power tracking system provides only a six percent increase in annual hydrogen production. An examination of the effect of PV array tilt indicates, as expected, that annual hydrogen production is insensitive to tilt angle within ± 20 deg of latitude. Summer production greatly exceeds winter generation. Tilting the array, even to 90 deg, produces no significant increase in winter hydrogen production.

Copyright © 1986 by ASME
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