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Renewable Energy 26 (2002) 143153

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Technical note

Dynamic modelling and simulation of a


photovoltaic refrigeration plant
Adnene Cherif *, Ahmed Dhouib
Engineering Institute of Tunis, Energetic Laboratory, E.N.I.T, BP 37 1002 Tunis, Tunisia
Received 15 November 2000; accepted 19 April 2001

Abstract
In this paper, we will present the performances, the simulation responses and the dynamic
behaviour of a photovoltaic (PV) refrigeration plant using latent storage. This approach uses
a new storage strategy of stand alone PV plants which substitutes the battery storage with
thermal, eutectic, latent or a hydraulic storage. The measurements and the evaluation of these
less battery storage systems at several climatic conditions and under load disturbances allow
us to evaluate the PV system reliability and to compare its performances with classic battery
storage systems. 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Battery storage; Latent storage; Photovoltaics; Refrigeration

1. Introduction
Solar refrigeration is a promising photovoltaic (PV) application, especially in
countries with a high level of solar insolation. It is usually used in the pharmaceutic,
medical and food industries but their main application is the transportable vaccine
cold chain in hospitals and remote areas.
Unlike domestic refrigerators, the realization of these systems is based on new
ideas and techniques of thermal insulation, storage, control and monitoring.

* Corresponding author. Tel.: 2161 872600; fax: 2161-885073.


E-mail address: adnane.cher@fst.rnu.tn (A. Cherif).
0960-1481/02/$ - see front matter 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
PII: S 0 9 6 0 - 1 4 8 1 ( 0 1 ) 0 0 1 0 7 - 0

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Nomenclature
l
C
X
S
M
r
T
P
Q
W
e
f
Ip
Icc
Vp
Rs, Rp
K
COP
h
t
dcdc
dcac

Conductivity (W/m K)
Specific heat (J/kg K)
Thickness of the exchange section (m)
Surface of the exchange section (m2)
Mass of the section (kg)
Density (kg/m3)
Temperature (K)
Power (W)
Evaporator heat flow (W)
Eenergy (WH)
Door openings vector
Insolation (kW/m2)
Panel output current (A)
Short circuit panel current (A)
Panel output voltage (V)
Serial and shunt panel resistance ()
Themal exchange coefficients (W/m2 K)
Refrigerator performance ratio
Efficiency
Time (s)
Continuous to continuous converter
Continuous to alternative converter

Indices
i
p
s
c
a
e

Internal
Product
Storage
Ice
Ambiant
Opening perturbation

2. Structure of less battery storage systems (LBSS) PV plants


Several PV plants using dc and ac loads have the configuration of Fig. 1 where
the dc/dc converter ensure the maximal power point tracking (MPPT) [1] mode of
the PV array, and the inverter provides a 220 V sinusoidal output signal and ensures
a high efficiency thanks to the pulse width modulation (PWM) control and optimal
management [2]. The PV system is monitored by a data acquisitioncontrol interface
and a PV software.

A. Cherif, A. Dhouib / Renewable Energy 26 (2002) 143153

Fig. 1.

145

Configuration of a PV plant.

3. Description of the refrigeration LBSS plant


We have developed in our laboratory new prototypes of PV pumping and refrigeration systems using a new storage strategy by reducing or substituting the storage
section (battery and its regulator) and performing the electronic conversion unit:
dc/dc and dc/ac converters [3]. The LBSS refrigeration plant of Fig. 2 can be divided
into three parts:
an electronic unit: composed of the PV panel and the dc/dc and dc/ac converters;
a thermal section: which contains the refrigerator and the cooling sections; and
a control/data acquisition chain: for the PV system control and management.
The refrigerator consists of two sections separated by a controlled flap. The upper
section contains the latent storage and the other is designed for the products conservation. During periods of good and sufficient solar radiation, the compressor works
continuously in order to load the storage section (by ice accumulation) and to maintain the desired temperature in the product section. During the night and unfavourable

Fig. 2.

Description of the PV LBSS refrigeration plant.

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A. Cherif, A. Dhouib / Renewable Energy 26 (2002) 143153

Fig. 3.

The measured temperatures of the PV refrigeration system.

climatic conditions, the latent storage substitutes the evaporator and behaves as an
auxiliary cold source [4].
The measured temperatures of the PV refrigerator represented in Fig. 3, demonstrate that the desired temperatures are reached in 6 h. The refrigerator disposition
is horizontal in order to reduce the power losses. Its size is about 1.357580 m3.
The storage and the internal section capacities are 50 kg of ice and 150 kg of products
(vaccines). The insulation thickness of the refrigerator (in polyurethane) is 8 cm.

4. Modelling
The physical model of the cooling system is based on a local discretization of the
exchange sections. This method was initially developed by Timoumi [5]. In order
to simplify the state model and to reduce the system order, we consider the reduced
model of the Fig. 4.

Fig. 4.

The reduced model of the refrigeration unit.

A. Cherif, A. Dhouib / Renewable Energy 26 (2002) 143153

147

The refrigerator temperatures of Fig. 4 can be divided into four variables which
constitute the state variable. These are: the temperatures of the storage section, Ts;
the product section, Ti; the latent accumulation product, Tc; and the load (product)
temperature, Tp.
The system input is the solar radiation and the ambiant temperature which affect
the output power of the PV panel and the dynamic evaporator power, Qe.
The door opening disturbance is given by the vector (e) which is assumed to a
random noise corresponding to the frequency of openings (0, closed; 1, opened).
The transfer equations can be expressed as:
Storageambiant interface:
rsSsXsCs

dTs
dTs
MsCs
QePsaPsiPsc
dt
dt

QePpvhdc/ac(COP),

(1)

(2)

where Ppv is the PV panel power output which can be expressed as [6]:
PpvVpIpIccIs[expA(VpRsIp)1](VpRsIp)

(3)

and COP is the performance ratio of the refrigeration unit and hdc/ac is the
inverter efficiency.
Storageload interface:
rcScXcCc

dTc
dTs
MsCs Psc.
dt
dt

(4)

Internalambiant interface:
riSiXiCi

dTi
dTi
MiCi PiaPipPi.
dt
dt

(5)

Internalproduct interface:
rpSpXpCp

dTp
dTp
MpCp
Pip.
dt
dt

(6)

The expressions (1) to (5) lead to the next state model:


TATBU

(7)

where A represents the thermal exchange coefficients matrix; B is the control matrix;
T is the state vector of the temperatures constituted of the storage, internal and product temperatures; U is the control input vector constituted of the insolation and
ambiant temperature with:

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A. Cherif, A. Dhouib / Renewable Energy 26 (2002) 143153

TI

lis
lc
KsaSs+ Sis+ Sc
lis
Xc

MsCs

lcSc
XsMsCc

TC
TS

lcSc
lcSc
XcMcCc XcMcCc

TP

b0

lisSis
XisMiCi

0
Tc

lisSis
XisMsCs

lis
lp
KiaSia+ Sis+ Sp+ekS
Xis
Xp
lpSp

MiCi
XpMiCi
lpSp
XpMiCi

lpSp
XpMiCi

MsCs

Ti
0
Tp
0
Ts

KsaSsa
MsCs
KiaSia+ekeSe
MiCi

Qe
.
Ta

5. Performance analysis and simulation results


The PV system performances and its dynamic behaviour under various perturbations can be obtained by simulation with the previous model. In order to observe
the load and the climatic effects on the system responses, we have presented in Figs.
511 the evolution of the output PV power, the storage and the product temperatures
under several load disturbances and climatic fluctuations.

Fig. 5.

Daily energy consumption, stored and provided.

A. Cherif, A. Dhouib / Renewable Energy 26 (2002) 143153

Fig. 6.

149

Simulated temperatures of the refrigeration system.

Fig. 7. Daily storage and consumed energy with a solar radiation perturbation.

Fig. 8.

Daily temperatures evolution with radiation disturbance (load=15 kg).

5.1. Dynamic simulation


The responses shown in Figs. 5 and 6 show that the daily climatic variations
slightly affect the storage temperature. Thermal inertia of the other temperatures
are more dominant and fluctuations are hardly remarkable. Thus, the storage is not
deteriorated and the desired conditions are always respected.

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A. Cherif, A. Dhouib / Renewable Energy 26 (2002) 143153

Fig. 9.

Fig. 10.

Daily energy consumed and stored with opening door perturbation.

Daily temperatures evolution with opening door disturbance (load of 15 kg).

Fig. 11.

Daily temperatures evolution with load disturbance.

5.2. Solar radiation disturbance


However, a very important variation or the absence of the solar radiation (Figs.
7 and 8) decreases considerably the PV power and all the temperatures, especially
the product and the storage sections. Thus, the storage has not taken place and order
conditions are no longer reached.

A. Cherif, A. Dhouib / Renewable Energy 26 (2002) 143153

Fig. 12.

151

The storage energy variation as a function of the load.

5.3. The door opening disturbance


On the other hand, the random openings of the PV refrigerator affect slightly and
only the internal temperature Ti. The storage and the product temperatures remain
relatively unchanged and follow small fluctuations (Figs. 9 and 10).
5.4. Load disturbance
Finally, we present in Fig. 11, the simulation results with a load perturbation. Fig.
11 shows that the internal and the product temperatures are slightly modified by the
load variation. Indeed, despite that an additional load slows the continuous mode
and the storage process, it presents the advantage to increase the thermal inertia and
to improve consequently the PV system autonomy. Fig. 12 which represents the
storage energy variation in function of the load, shows that this optimal load is ca
8 kg.
5.5. Storage and consumption energy
We have computed (Fig. 13) the daily storage energy and the consumed energy
for a load of 1000 WH/day and a daily energetic production (PEJ) of 5000

Fig. 13.

Monthly energy consumption and storage (for a PEJ=5000 WH/m2/day).

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A. Cherif, A. Dhouib / Renewable Energy 26 (2002) 143153

WH/m2/day. We have integrated these values for monthly periods in order to have
the annual consumption profile.
5.6. Thermal losses and insulation
We have computed the thermal losses and the optimal insulation of the storage
and product sections. The results led to the significant conclusions:
thermal losses constitute ca. 70% of the consumption power;
the optimal insulating thickness is 8.7 cm for the storage section (Fig. 14).
5.7. Conclusions
The analysis results show that:
With good climatic conditions (PEJ 5000 WH/m2/day), the storage starts at 10
H and the storage energy is about Wst=705 WH/day (Fig. 5). This energy can
ensure an autonomy of 1 day (with the same load). More, in a previous economical
study [7], we have evaluated the PV cost in function of the climatic conditions
as 1.2 $/kWH for a PEJ=5000 WH/m2/day.
For a PV plant of 200 W and a load of 1000 WH/day, the provided energies are
(Fig. 13):
consumption Wcons=179 kWH/year;
storage Wst=115 kWH/year;
the satisfaction rate is ca 87%.
These systems should work and function with an optimal load computed as a
function of the PV and refrigerator parameters (Fig. 12).
Yet, with solar irradiation perturbations, the LBSS parameters decreased and we
did not reach the storage regime (Figs. 7 and 8).
The door openings and the load disturbances increase the thermal losses but do
not affect the storage temperature (Figs. 9 and 10).

Fig. 14.

Insulating thickness as a function of the set temperature.

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153

6. Conclusion
In this paper, we have presented the simulated responses of a new refrigeration
plant using latent storage. The dynamic simulation results at several climatic disturbances show a good efficiency, reliability and autonomy of the PV system at favourable climatic conditions and a sturdiness at door-openings and load perturbations.
However, the systems efficiency and its performances decrease relatively with solar
radiation disturbance because the PV LBSS requires good climatic conditions to
reach the storage regime.

References
[1] Cherif A. Modelisation, simulation et realisation dune unite de refrigeration solaire. Doctorate thesis,
ENIT, Tunis, 1997:5053.
[2] Louche A, Notton G, Poggi P, Peri G. Global approach for an optimal grid connected PV systems
sizing. In: Proceedings of the 12th solar Energy Conference and Exhibition, Amsterdam, 1994.
[3] Dhouib A. Performances et parame`tres dune unite de refrigeration LSS. Annales Maghrebins
1992;5:325.
[4] Dhouib A, Cherif A. Optimization and management of a PV refrigeration plant. In: Proceedings of
the 12th E.P.S.E. Conference, Amsterdam, vol. 1, 1994:448452.
[5] Timoumi M. Validation des mode`les de changeurs thermiques. The`se de Doctorat de 3ieme cycle, Paris
VII, France, 1986.
[6] Jraidi M. Simulation et dimensionnement des syste`mes photovoltaiques. 3rd cycle thesis, ENIT,
Tunis, 1993.
[7] Cherif A, Dhouib A. Comparative study of battery storage and less battery storage in stand alone PV
systems. Proceedings of Renewable Energy 1998;4:17769.