Photovoltaic (PV) cells can absorb up to 80% of the incident solar radiation of the solar spectrum, however, only certain percentage of the absorbed incident energy is converted into electricity depending on the conversion efficiency of the PV cell technology used, while the remainder energy is dissipated as heat accumulating on the surface of the cells causing elevated temperatures. Temperature rise at the PV cell level is addressed as one of the most critical issues influencing the performance of the cells causing serious degradations and shortens the life-time of the PV cells, hence cooling of the PV module during operation is essential. Hybrid PV designs which are able to simultaneously generate electrical energy and utilize the waste heat have been proven to be the most promising solution. In this study, analytical investigation of a hybrid system comprising of a Heat Pipe-based Photovoltaic-Thermoelectric Generator (HP-PV/TEG) for further enhanced performance is presented. The system presented incorporates a PV panel for direct electricity generation, a heat pipe to absorb excessive heat from the PV cells and assist uniform temperature distribution on the surface of the panel, and a thermoelectric generator (TEG) to perform direct heat-to-electricity conversion. A mathematical model based on the heat transfer process within the system is developed to evaluate the cooling capability and predict the overall thermal and electrical performances of the hybrid system. Results are presented in terms electrical efficiencies of the system. It was observed that the integration of TEG modules with PV cells aid improving the performance of the PV cells through utilizing the waste-heat available, leading to higher output power. The system presented can be applied in regions with hot desert climates where electricity demand is higher than thermal energy.


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