Paper presented to the 3rd Southern African Solar Energy Conference, South Africa, 11-13 May, 2015.
New technologies are being invented everyday to improve the quality of human life. The rapid development in solar energy technologies together with the fast depleting fossil fuel sources have led to the high dissemination of solar photovoltaic and thermal systems. The self-independency with low payback time and reduced carbon footprint has made several Governments to offer customer-friendly policies and incentives. However, there is reluctance in implementing these technologies due to the low efficiency, high initial cost and large area requirement. These drawbacks can be sorted to certain extent by the use of solar PV/T technology. In a solar PV/T air collector, the flow of air beneath the photovoltaic module, cools the silicon cells and transfers the heat to the thermal application. The flow velocity of air can be controlled by a blower powered by the photovoltaic module itself. Thus, the system could be installed independently in cold rural areas for drying applications or in cold urban areas for space heating and lighting applications. Different PV/T air designs were developed for uniform cooling of the PV cells and improve the overall efficiency. However, the cooling distribution inside the PV/T collector due to the movement of air was not studied till now. In this paper, the cooling air distribution in a PV/T system was simulated using ANSYS FLUENT software, and compared using experimental results.