18-865   Photovoltaic Systems Engineering

Location: Africa

Units: 6

Semester Offered: Fall

Course discipline


Course concentration

Energy (Kigali)

Intelligent Physical Systems (Pittsburgh)

Course description

This course introduces basic engineering concepts for photovoltaic systems. Topics covered include solar resource assessment, PV cells and modules, system components, performance modeling, system sizing, loss mechanisms, energy yield assessment, and project economics. Different applications and business models for PV technology will be discussed including utility-scale PV power plants, rooftop systems, and off-grid systems. The implications of relevant policy will be explored including net metering and independent power producers. The course will be interesting to a general audience but is focused in particular on applications in the developing world.

View the syllabus for more information.

Learning objectives

Students in the course will examine how to:

  • Assess local solar resource
  • Size PV system components for different applications
  • Estimate energy yield from PV system
  • Evaluate the economic performance of PV system


Students are able to determine appropriate technology for different applications of solar energy and assess the impacts of PV-relevant policy choices.

Content details

  • Solar resource assessment
  • PV cells and modules
  • Balance of system components
  • PV system applications
  • Component sizing
  • Energy yield assessment
  • Economic analysis




Barry Rawn