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Effects of Power Tracking Algorithms on Lifetime of Power Electronic Devices Used in Solar Systems

Batunlu, Canras
Alrweq, Mohamad
Albarbar, Alhussein
In photovoltaic solar energy systems, power management algorithms (PMAs), usually called maximum power point tracking (MPPT) algorithms, are widely used for extracting maximum available power at every point in time. However, tracking the maximum power has negative effects on the availability of solar energy systems. This is due, mainly, to the created disturbances and thermal stresses on the associated power electronic converters (PECs). This work investigates the effects of PMA on the lifetime consumption, thermal stresses and failures on DC-DC converters used in solar systems. Firstly theoretical analysis and modelling of photovoltaic solar systems including converter's electro thermal characteristics were developed. Subsequently, experiments on photovoltaic solar systems were carried out using two different PMAs, namely, perturb and observe (P&O) and incremental conductance (IC). Real-time data was collected, under different operating conditions, including thermal behavior using thermal imaging camera and dSPACE. Converters' thermal cycling was found to be approximately 3 degrees C higher with the IC algorithm. The steady state temperature was 52.7 degrees C, for the IC while it was 42.6 degrees C for P&O. Although IC algorithm offers more accurate power management tool, it causes more severe thermal stresses which, in this study, has led to approximately 1.4 times greater life consumption compared to P&O.