solar power system, photovoltaics, MPPT, power electronics, co-simulation


This dissertation presents simulation tools developed specifically for the design of solar array power systems. Contributions are made in several aspects of the system design phases, including solar source modeling, system simulation, and controller verification. A tool to automate the study of solar array configurations using general purpose circuit simulators has been developed based on the modeling of individual solar cells. Hierarchical structure of solar cell elements, including semiconductor properties, allows simulation of electrical properties as well as the evaluation of the impact of environmental conditions. A second developed tool provides a co-simulation platform with the capability to verify the performance of an actual digital controller implemented in programmable hardware such as a DSP processor, while the entire solar array including the DC-DC power converter is modeled in software algorithms running on a computer. This "virtual plant" allows developing and debugging code for the digital controller, and also to improve the control algorithm. One important task in solar arrays is to track the maximum power point on the array in order to maximize the power that can be delivered. Digital controllers implemented with programmable processors are particularly attractive for this task because sophisticated tracking algorithms can be implemented and revised when needed to optimize their performance. The proposed co-simulation tools are thus very valuable in developing and optimizing the control algorithm, before the system is built. Examples that demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed methodologies are presented. The proposed simulation tools are also valuable in the design of multi-channel arrays. In the specific system that we have designed and tested, the control algorithm is implemented on a single digital signal processor. In each of the channels the maximum power point is tracked individually. In the prototype we built, off-the-shelf commercial DC-DC converters were utilized. At the end, the overall performance of the entire system was evaluated using solar array simulators capable of simulating various I-V characteristics, and also by using an electronic load. Experimental results are presented.


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Graduation Date





Kasparis, Takis


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Engineering and Computer Science


Electrical and Computer Engineering

Degree Program

Electrical Engineering








Release Date

May 2005

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)