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Renewable Energy 29 (2004) 403–411

Technical note
Predicting average energy conversion of
photovoltaic system in Malaysia using a
simplified method
T.M.I. Alamsyah ∗, K. Sopian, A. Shahrir
Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, 43600 Bangi,
Selangor, Malaysia

Received 27 March 2003; accepted 21 April 2003


This paper is about predicting the average conventional energy conversion by a photovoltaic
system in Malaysia. The calculation is based on average number of days in a month. Average
hourly energy flows are estimated based on knowledge of array test parameters, monthly aver-
age of hourly ambient temperature and monthly average of daily hemispherical radiation. The
monthly average of diffuse component of radiation can be predicted based on hemispherical
radiation, by using an appropriate empirical correlation related to the monthly average of
diffuse fraction to monthly average of clearness index. The values of hourly average radiation
are estimated based on a statistical model.
 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Photovoltaic system; Average hourly radiation; Kuala Lumpur; Malaysia

1. Introduction

For optimum design of photovoltaic system in certain region, the estimation of

long-term system performance is necessary. One of the approaches to obtain this
information is by employing a computer simulation that uses special software such
as TRNSYS [1]. The software can compute system performance with a high temporal
accuracy resolution and integrate the result over time. However the extensive
meteorological data required for simulations are usually not available for extended

Corresponding author. Tel.: +603-8925-1000; fax: +603-8929-6145.
E-mail address: (T.M.I. Alamsyah).

0960-1481/$ - see front matter  2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
404 T.M.I. Alamsyah et al. / Renewable Energy 29 (2004) 403–411

A area of photovoltaic system (m2)
C the concentration for flat-plate array (MJ/m2)
Iarray the radiation incident hourly on the array per unit area (MJ/m2)
Ib indirect irradiance at normal incidence (MJ/m2)
Id hourly diffuse irradiation
Ih hourly global irradiation on a horizontal plane(MJ/m2)
H̄ monthly average of daily extraterrestrial irradiation on a horizontal
plane (MJ/m2)
Hd monthly average of daily diffuse radiation
H̄h monthly average of daily ground reflected irradiation
K̄T monthly average of daily clearness index
rt factor for converting monthly average of daily diffuse irradiation on
a horizontal plane
rd factor for converting monthly of average daily global irradiation
UL thermal loss coefficient (W/m2C)
iarray monthly average of hourly irradiation on the array surface (MJ/m2)
Id monthly average of hourly diffuse irradiation
it monthly average of hourly global irradiation on a horizontal plane
n average number of days in a month
w hour angle measured from solar noon: +ve for afternoon (radians)
ws sunset hour angle (radians)
wrs sunset angle on an inclined plane (radians)
f latitude of location: +ve, north; ⫺ve, south (radians)
d the sun’s declination angle (radian)
qz angle of incidence of direct irradiance on the horizontal plane
qarray angle of incidence of direct irradiance on array plane (radians)
s array title angle from the horizontal plane (radians)
he energetic efficiency of the auxiliary power utility
b temperature coefficient (C⫺1)
g radiation intensity coefficient
ta transmittance–absorbance product

periods at many meteorological stations in developing countries. An alternative

approach is to use simplified and easier computational methods that do not require
extensive data and that can be adapted for hand-calculation methods. This method
would be easier to understand than the one using computer software.
Several studies in the past have described various simplified methods estimating
the long-term average performance or energy conversion of photovoltaic system.
Ref. [2] describes a procedure which combines basic parameters characteristic of the
T.M.I. Alamsyah et al. / Renewable Energy 29 (2004) 403–411 405

photovoltaic array with local monthly mean temperature and a monthly mean clear-
ness index to yield a monthly average efficiency, which, when multiplied by monthly
array insulations, gives electrical energy output. On the other hand, Ref. [3] presents
a method for predicting the monthly average of conventional energy displaced by
photovoltaic system based upon a monthly average of meteorological data.
In this paper, another simplified method for predicting the long-term average con-
ventional energy conversion by a photovoltaic system is used to predict an average
performance of photovoltaic system in Malaysia.

2. Prediction of electrical output of the photovoltaic array

The efficiency of a photovoltaic (PV) array is a function of cell temperature and

array irradiation which is represented by the following equation [2]:
h ⫽ hr1⫺b(Tt⫺Tr) ⫹ glog10Iarray (1)
where hr is the array efficiency measured at reference cell temperature and this is
relatively constant for the range of operating temperatures encountered in flat-plate
array [3], where Tc is the cell temperature and Tr is the reference cell temperature
at which hr is determined, g is radiation-intensity coefficient for cell efficiency, and
Iarray is the radiation incident on the array per unit area. Eq. (1) is written with g
= 0 [3].
It is convenient to subtract and add the ambient temperature, Ta, from and to the
two temperature terms in parentheses in Eq. (1), Tc and Tr respectively, and to give
after setting g = 0. The equation can be written as follows:
h ⫽ hr[1⫺b(Tc⫺Ta) ⫹ b(Ta⫺Tr)] (2)
The energy balance of the array equates the solar energy gain in the array to the
electrical output and thermal losses which can be expressed by the following equ-
taIarray ⫽ hIarray ⫹ UL(Tc⫺Ta) (3)
where ta is the transmittance–absorbance product of the array and UL is the thermal
loss coefficient per unit area between array and ambient temberature. Meanwhile h
in Eq. (3), is of the order of 0.1 ta. Therefore, Eq. (3) can be estimated by the
following equation:

Tc⫺Ta ⫽ 0.9 冉冊
Ul array

The term, ta / U L, can be determined from measurements of cell temperature, ambient

temperature and solar radiation at nominal operating cell temperature (NOCT) con-
ditions I array = 800 W / m2 = 2.88 MJ / m2 / h, wind speed = 1 m / s and h = 0 in Eq.
(3). ta/UL is obtained as:
ta (Tc,NOCT⫺Ta,NOCT)
⫽ (5)
UL Iarray,NOCT
406 T.M.I. Alamsyah et al. / Renewable Energy 29 (2004) 403–411

Assuming ta / U L to be constant over the relevant operating temperatire range, Eq.

(4) with ta / U L obtained from Eq. (5), can be used in Eq. (2) to obtain:

h ⫽ hr 1⫺0.9b
(T ⫺T
)⫺b(Ta⫺Tr) 册 (6)

The electrical energy output, Qc, of the array is given by:

Qc ⫽ hAIarray (7)
where h is obtained from Eq. (6) and A is the area.
The average of hourly radiation incident on the array Iarray can be approximated
by the following equation [1]:
Iarray ⫽ Ibcosqarray ⫹ Id (8)
where Ib is direct irradiance at normal incidence, qarray is the angle of incidence of
direct irradiance on the array, C is the concentration (which is equal to 1 for a flat-
plate array) and Id is the diffuse irradiance. If all the radiation in an hour is assumed
to be concentrated at the middle hours, Eq. (8) also gives the hourly irradiation
incident on the array, with qarray measured at the middle of the hour.
Often, hourly radiation data, especially the data that resolved into component beam
and diffuse, are not available at many meteorological stations in Malaysia. The rec-
ords available at most meteorological stations are those of monthly averages of daily
hemispherical (global) irradiation on a horizontal plane. Hd, which can be predicted
from one of the several correlations given by Refs. [4–6]. Other factors relating the
ratio Hd / H with monthly average clearness index, KT, for w s ⬎ 81.40° and 0.3ⱕ
KTⱕ0.8 can be expressed by the following equation:
⫽ 1.311⫺3.022KT ⫹ 3.427K2T⫺1.821K3T (9)
where Hd can be obtained with KT = H / H0 where H0 is the monthly average of
extraterrestrial radiation.
H and Hd can be resolved into monthly average of hourly values, it and id, respect-
ively, by the use of conversion factors. rt, and rd [1,7]. These are presented in the
following equation as:
it ⫽ rtH (10)
id ⫽ rdHd (11)
where rt and rd resolve monthly average of daily irradiation to monthly average of
hourly values.
Ib of Eq. (8) can be expressed in terms of the hemispherical radiation on a horizon-
tal plane, Ih, and diffuse radiation, Id, as:
T.M.I. Alamsyah et al. / Renewable Energy 29 (2004) 403–411 407

Iba ⫽ (12)
where qz is zenith angle. Eq. (8) can be written, after replacing the instantaneous or
hourly irradiation values, I, by the monthly average hourly irradiation, i, obtained
from Eqs. (10) and (11), as:
iarray ⫽ (it⫺id) ⫹ id (13)
The other variable in Eq. (11) that still needs to be evaluated is cosqarray / cosqz. For
fixed-plate surface located at latitude, f with azimuth equal to zero and tilt angle s,
cosqarray / cosqz is given by the following equation [9]:
cosθarray cos(f⫺s)(cosw⫺cosws)
⫽ (14)
cosθz cosf(cosw⫺cosws)
The angle wps in Eq. (14) is given by:
cosws ⫽ ⫺tan(f⫺s)tand (15)
where d is the declination of the sun.
For an array with tilt, s, equal latitude, f, as assumed in this paper, Eq. (15) is
evaluated with cosws = 0.
Now, Eq. (13) can be evaluated using values of cosqarray / cosqz and calculated at
the middle of each hour for an average number of days in a month, to obtain monthly
average values of Iarray, which are entered into the array efficiency and energy as
seen in Eqs. (6) and (7) [8].

3. Simulation procedure

This section outlines the simulation procedure which can be adopted to determine
the average performance of the PV system in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. As an
example, the average of the month of May is selected. The procedure is suitable for
hand calculations and the speed of calculation can be enhanced by using a spread-
sheet application, e.g. Microsoft Excel.
For each month, the average number of days, n, is used for the simulation as
recommended by Ref. [6]. Long-term monthly average meteorological data are used.
This is assumed for the average number of days. Day time hourly values of the
radiation available per unit array area, iarray, are calculated using location, radiation
data as given in the table for the month of May in Kuala Lumpur. In Table 4, w is
the hour angle, n is the average number of days for the month, d is the sun’s decli-
nation on the average number of days of the month, f is the latitude of the location
and ws is the sunset hour angle calculated based on f and d. it and id are the average
hourly diffuse and hemispherical radiation calculated from the monthly average radi-
ation, H and Hd, using Eqs. (10) and (11) with the appropriate conversion factors,
408 T.M.I. Alamsyah et al. / Renewable Energy 29 (2004) 403–411

Table 1
Radiation data in May for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Description Value

Monthly average of diffuse Ḧd 8.76 MJ/m2

Monthly average of daily radiation on horizontal 17.7 MJ/m2
surface Ḧ
Monthly average of clear index K̈t 0.495

Table 2
Data ambient temperature (location: latitude Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)

Time Temperature

6:00;7:00 23.7
7:00;8:00 24.1
8:00;9:00 25.6
9.00;10:00 27.5
10:00;11:00 27.7
11:00;12:00 27.8
12:00:13.00 26.7
13:00;14:00 31.2
14.00;15:00 29.6
15.00;16:00 31.3
16:00;17:00 28.8
17:00;18:00 29.9

Table 3
System array parameters

Array type Flat plate

Reference efficiency, hr 0.10

Reference cell temperature, Tr 25 °C
Iarray,NOCT 800 W/m2
Temperature coefficient, b 0.004/°C
Ambient temperature at NOCT, Ta,NOCT 20 °C
Cell temperature at NOCT condition, Tc,NOCT 46 °C
Power conditioning efficiency, ht 0.90
Table 4
Determination of average hourly radiation available at the array (location: Kuala Lumpur; latitude f 3.1°; month May. Average Hd = 876.2 MJ / m2 Kt =
0.495. H = 17.70 MJ / m2, Array type: flat plate

Time w n q ws rd rt it id cosqarray / cosqz iarray Ta h Qc (MJ)

(radiations) (radians) (radians)

6.00⫺7.00 ⫺1.43 135 0.054 1.589 0.019 0.0137 0.166 0.2420 0.8244 0.2287 23.70 0.10 0.6722
7.00⫺8.00 ⫺1.17 135 0.054 1.589 0.082 0.0430 0.464 0.7611 0.934 0.7415 24.04 0.10 2.1800
8.00⫺9.00 ⫺0.92 135 0.054 1.589 0.106 0.0750 0.718 1.3280 0.958 1.3024 25.60 0.09 3.5164
9.00⫺10.00 ⫺0.65 135 0.054 1.589 0.123 0.1056 0.928 1.8690 0.967 1.8379 27.50 0.09 4.9625
10.00⫺11.00 ⫺0.39 135 0.054 1.589 0.132 0.1290 1.077 2.2830 0.972 2.2492 27.70 0.09 6.1404
11.00⫺12.00 ⫺0.13 135 0.054 1.589 0.132 0.1424 1.156 2.5200 0.974 2.4845 27.80 0.09 6.6337
12.00⫺13.00 0.13 135 0.054 1.589 0.123 0.1424 1.156 2.5200 0.974 2.4845 26.70 0.09 6.8573
13.00⫺14.00 0.39 135 0.054 1.589 0.106 0.1290 1.077 2.2830 0.972 2.2492 31.20 0.09 6.2754
14.00⫺15.00 0.65 135 0.054 1.589 0.106 0.1056 0.928 1.8690 0.967 1.8379 29.60 0.10 5.2933
15.00⫺16.00 0.92 135 0.054 1.589 0.082 0.0750 0.718 1.3280 0.958 1.3024 31.30 0.10 3.8290
16.00⫺17.00 1.17 135 0.054 1.589 0.053 0.0430 0.464 0.7611 0.934 0.7415 28.80 0.10 2.1800
17.00⫺18.00 1.43 135 0.054 1.589 0.019 0.0137 0.166 0.2420 0.8244 0.2287 29.90 0.10 0.6722
T.M.I. Alamsyah et al. / Renewable Energy 29 (2004) 403–411
410 T.M.I. Alamsyah et al. / Renewable Energy 29 (2004) 403–411

Fig. 1. The energy output from a photovoltaic system.

rt and rd, respectively, cosqarray / cosqz is obtained for Eq. (13) and iarray is obtained
from Eq. (12). Radiation data are given in Table 1. Now the hourly energy flow for
the system parameter is given in Table 3. The values of iarray obtained from Table
2 are tabulated in Table 3 and used together with temperature-dependent h of Eq.
(6). The efficiency of power conditioning array output, hcQe, is calculated from Eq.
(7). Temperature data are also obtained from Table 2. Then, this can be simulated
and the simulation result is tabulated in Table 4. The energy output from a photovol-
taic system is presented in Fig. 1.

4. Conclusion

A method predicting energy conversion or performance of photovoltaic system in

Malaysia is presented. The approach is suitable for hand calculation. For each month,
simulations are examined for only one day. This method can be speeded up by using
a spread sheet application. This method is suitable for primary evaluation of the
average performance of photovoltaic system in Malaysia as well as in other countries.
However, at the final stage, intensive evaluation including technoeconomic analysis
is necessary.


The authors would like to thank the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environ-
ment for the financial support under IRPA Grant No. 02-02-02-0005-PR23/11-10.
T.M.I. Alamsyah et al. / Renewable Energy 29 (2004) 403–411 411


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