University of Malta

Study-Unit Description
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TITLE Technical Guidance on Photovoltaic Systems Installations - Single and Three Phase

LEVEL 02 - Years 2, 3 in Modular Undergraduate Course


DEPARTMENT Institute for Sustainable Energy

DESCRIPTION The CPD course will introduce the relevant EU Energy Directives together with Malta’s energy and electricity regulations. The course will explain the fundamental principles of solar energy, including terminology, symbols and units; Malta’s solar potential; the determination of the position of the sun using sun-path diagrams; solar radiation; solar tracking; optimisation of azimuth angle and tilt for a solar PV system and calculation of shadow lengths.

The course will cover single and three-phase Solar PV systems including the following:
a. photovoltaic technology: The Photovoltaic Effect; IV curves, irradiance and temperature response; types of Solar PV Cells; Manufacturing of PV Cells;The “Peak” terminology; Solar modules: types, efficiency, applications; Array configurations, blocking and bypass diodes ; Shading and bypass diodes; DC Power and safety issues.
b. batteries: types of batteries; battery lifetime and energy demand; battery control and safety.
c. inverters:function, types, output waveforms; inverter technology (transformerless, full bridge, half bridge, PWM techniques); operation of stand-alone and grid-connected inverters; special requirements for three-phase inverters; inverter safety features (stand-alone, island and grid-connected).
d. sizing of solar PV systems, including sizing of a stand-alone, grid-connected and island systems; software evaluation; matching of PV array and inverter capacities; Awareness on importance of mis-match losses due to use of different modules of varying outputs or make.

The installation requirements for PV systems will be explained, with special emphasis on three-phase systems. This will cover site Inspection; Roof types and Mounting techniques; PV arrays wiring to minimise shading losses; Sizing of wires (outdoor temperature, UV effects); Locating inverters and batteries; Connection to switchboards; D.C. side issues; Grid protection; Lightning and grounding protection; Signage requirements; Schematic diagrams including metering; Structural Integrity and Safety; Electrolytic and galvanic effects when using different materials; Other Safety and Security issues.

Finally the course will treat System installation, commissioning and maintenance with special focus on three-phase systems. This will include the following: Safe work practices; Testing a Stand-alone System; Test an inverter system for correct operation; Locate and rectify faults; Handover Procedures and Customer Information Requirements; Log books and Maintenance schedules; Troubleshooting and reporting of potential problems/failures.

Study-unit Aims:

1. To deliver the necessary knowledge required to understand fully all the aspects connected with solar photovoltaic technologies;
2. To deliver sufficient technical and practical skills so that the student will be able to carry out proper installation and maintenance of solar photovoltaic systems, independently and without supervision;
3. To teach the necessary tools required to design and size photovoltaic systems for real-life projects;
4. to provide information on prevailing legal commitments and training on health and safety that a solar photovoltaic installer would need to know;
5. To produce well-trained, responsible and informed PV installers for the local market, who would be eligible to acquire the required authorisation for single and three-phase photovoltaic systems, from the Malta Resources Authority, according to the EU Directive 2009/28/EC.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
1. Explain the most relevant EU Directives and local legislation directly concerning the topic.
2. Distinguish between the different terms and units dealing with solar radiation and solar systems.
3. Calculate the effect of the apparent motion of the sun across the sky (solar path) on solar systems.
4. Apply fundamental principles regarding the operation and performance characteristics of photovoltaic (PV) cells and modules as well as different PV array configurations.
5. Explain the purpose of by-pass diodes, blocking diodes and other controls.
6. Explain the basic characteristic and operational conditions of storage batteries.
7. Demonstrate the basic functions and performance characteristics of inverters with special emphasis on three-phase systems.
8. Size and design domestic, small as well as large commercial grid connected PV systems (single-phase and three phase systems).
9. Become acquainted with the proper methodologies for installation, commissioning, basic maintenance and troubleshooting of single-phase PV systems.
10. Ensure full understanding of all aspects of health and safety connected with single-phase as well as three-phase PV systems.

2. Skills:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
1. Correctly interpret relevant EU Directives and national legal notices concerning photovoltaic systems.
2. Calculate shadow lengths of obstacles to be able to correctly choose a suitable location for a solar PV system.
3. Be able to choose and match the proper type and size of solar PV modules with other balance of system components (batteries, inverters, switches, cables) for a particular project.
4. Size and design single and three-phase solar PV systems to match a particular demand.
5. Prepare and execute a plan for installing and commissioning independently and without supervision.
6. Prepare and execute a maintenance schedule for a grid connected PV power system.
7. Prepare and explain user instructions manual to end-users during commissioning.
8. Responsibly use all safety equipment correctly.
9. Carry out electrical connections in accordance with the prevailing network code.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

• The Network Code of Malta (2007)
• Photovoltaics in Buildings, Guide to the installation of PV systems, 2nd Edition, the BRE, EA Technology, Halcrow Group, SunDog Energy, Energy Saving Trust (2006).
• ‘Photovoltaics in Buildings – Safety and the CDM Regulations’, (BSRIA/DTI Feb 2000, ISBN 0 86022 548 8), (2000).
• Photovoltaics Design and Installation Manual: Renewable Energy Education for a Sustainable Future, Solar Energy International, New Society Publishers, Canada, ISBN 13:978-0-86571-520-2 (2004).
• Photovoltaics in Buildings: A Design Handbook for Architects and Engineers, Friedrich Sick and Thomas Erge, James and James, ISBN 1 873936 59 1 (1996).
• Planning and Installing Photovoltaic Systems: A Guide for Installers, Architects and Engineers, ECOFYS, DGS Earthscan, James and James, ISBN 1-84407 131 6 (2005).
• Handbook of Photovoltaic Science and Engineering, Antonio Luque and Steven Hegedus (Editors), Wiley, ISBN 0-471-49196-9 (2003).
• Designing with Solar Power: A Source Book for Building Integrated Photovoltaics, Deo Prasad and Mark Snow (Editors) Earthscan, ISBN 1-844071-47-2 (2005).

ADDITIONAL NOTES Pre-requisite Qualifications: National Qualification Framework (NQF) LEVEL 4, as defined by the Malta Qualifications Council. Level 4, and specifically applied to 3-year Educational Training (VET) Higher Diploma Courses, that would be relevant to the field of study. Additionally, the applicant must hold a valid Wireman Authorisation (License) B. Upon successful completion, the students will be automatically certified to install single and three phase photovoltaic systems for a period of five (5) years, following which they will be required to take a separate refreshers course to renew their certification, as stipulated in Government Notice No. 404 published in Govt. Gazette No. 19,087 of the 14th May 2013.

Architects, civil and mechanical engineers may take the course, but must have Authorisation (License) B, as a pre-requisite. Electrical Engineers do not require Authorisation (Licence) B, as their engineering course adequately covers this requirement.

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture, Independent Study & Practicum

Assessment Component/s Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment No 30%
Examination (3 Hours) No 70%


The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the study-unit description above applies to the academic year 2017/8, if study-unit is available during this academic year, and may be subject to change in subsequent years.
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