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In the third edition of Solar Energy, you will learn to design a complete photovoltaic system. This course introduces the technology that converts solar energy into electricity, heat and solar fuels with a main focus on electricity generation. Photovoltaic (PV) devices are presented as advanced semiconductor devices that deliver electricity directly from sunlight. The emphasis is on understanding the working principle of a solar cell, fabrication of solar cells, PV module construction and the design of a PV system. You will gain a greater understanding of the principles of the photovoltaic conversion— the conversion of light into electricity. This course explores the advantages, limitations and challenges of different solar cell technologies, such as crystalline silicon solar cell technology, thin film solar cell technologies and the latest novel solar cell concepts as studied on lab-scale. We will discuss the specifications of solar modules and demonstrate how to design a complete solar system for any particular application.

Education Method

The class will consist of a collection of eight to twelve minute lecture videos, exercises, assignments and exams. Specified assignments and the three exams will determine the final grade. The new textbook on “Solar Energy, basics, technology and systems” from the Delft University of Technology will be available for the students on-line and free of charge. Your course staff will encourage and challenge you to learn from, and interact with, your fellow students by helping each other and sharing ideas and best practices, in the course forum. We were happy to see the incredible number of interesting student videos on solar energy systems from all over the world in the previous edition of this course.

Professor Smets was the first ever recipient of the edX Prize for Exceptional Contributions to Online Teaching and Learning. His previous online courses attracted over 150,000 students worldwide, who were inspired to take their first steps in the transition to renewable energy.

  • The various methods of converting solar energy into electricity, heat and solar fuels
  • The physical working principles of photovoltaic conversion in solar cells
  • How to recognize and describe the various solar cell technologies, their current status and future technological challenges
  • How to analyze the performance of solar cells and modules
  • How to design a complete photovoltaic system for any particular application on paper

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Специальные требования

Basic knowledge of physics and mathematical skills, such as integration and differentiation, are preferred.



Week 1
Introduction to Solar Energy
(Assignment 1)

Week 2
Working Principle of a Semiconductor based Solar Cell
(Assignment 2)

Week 3
Solar Cell Operation, Performance and Design Rules
(Exam 1)

Week 4
PV technology Based on Crystalline Silicon Wafers
(Assignment 3)

Week 5
Thin-Film PV technologies
(Assignment 4)

Week 6
Third Generation PV and Other Ways to Utilize Solar Energy
(Exam 2)

Week 7
PV Systems-Components and Concepts
(Assignment 5)

Week 8
PV Systems- Application and Design
(Exam 3)



Arno Smets
Professor, Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science
Delft University of Technology



Delft University of Technology
Delft University of Technology



EdX est une plateforme d'apprentissage en ligne (dite FLOT ou MOOC). Elle héberge et met gratuitement à disposition des cours en ligne de niveau universitaire à travers le monde entier. Elle mène également des recherches sur l'apprentissage en ligne et la façon dont les utilisateurs utilisent celle-ci. Elle est à but non lucratif et la plateforme utilise un logiciel open source.

EdX a été fondée par le Massachusetts Institute of Technology et par l'université Harvard en mai 2012. En 2014, environ 50 écoles, associations et organisations internationales offrent ou projettent d'offrir des cours sur EdX. En juillet 2014, elle avait plus de 2,5 millions d'utilisateurs suivant plus de 200 cours en ligne.

Les deux universités américaines qui financent la plateforme ont investi 60 millions USD dans son développement. La plateforme France Université Numérique utilise la technologie openedX, supportée par Google.

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