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International Journal of Photoenergy
Volume 2016, Article ID 6145127, 15 pages
Research Article

Performance Characterisation of a Hybrid Flat-Plate Vacuum Insulated Photovoltaic/Thermal Solar Power Module in Subtropical Climate

Discipline of Mechanical Engineering, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban 4041, South Africa

Received 27 April 2016; Revised 13 July 2016; Accepted 18 July 2016

Academic Editor: Diego A. L. García

Copyright © 2016 Andrew Y. A. Oyieke and Freddie L. Inambao. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


A flat-plate Vacuum Insulated Photovoltaic and Thermal (VIPV/T) system has been thermodynamically simulated and experimentally evaluated to assess the thermal and electrical performance as well as energy conversion efficiencies under a subtropical climate. A simulation model made of specified components is developed in Transient Systems (TRNSYS) environment into which numerical energy balance equations are implemented. The influence of vacuum insulation on the system’s electrical and thermal yields has been evaluated using temperatures, current, voltage, and power flows over daily and annual cycles under local meteorological conditions. The results from an experiment conducted under steady-state conditions in Durban, South Africa, are compared with the simulation based on the actual daily weather data. The VIPV/T has shown improved overall and thermal efficiencies of 9.5% and 16.8%, respectively, while electrical efficiency marginally reduced by 0.02% compared to the conventional PV/T. The simulated annual overall efficiency of 29% (i.e., 18% thermal and 11% electrical) has been realised, in addition to the solar fraction, overall exergy, and primary energy saving efficiencies of 39%, 29%, and 27%, respectively.