Solar Radiation and Environmental Issues

Instructor:Kevin Homewood

Course Summary

The aim of this course is to introduce the students to the main methods of quantitative analysis of characteristics of solar radiation in terrestrial and outer space conditions, as well as to show how solar energy systems affect the environment. The course consists of two parts.

The first part investigates the characteristics of solar radiation in space and at the Earth’s surface. Students learn how to estimate the maximum illumination of solar battery and calculate maximum power output as a function of the geographical position, weather season and exploitation conditions. The students will learn how to use table and charts in order to calculate efficiency of various types of solar modules as a function of location and illumination conditions.

The second part of the course is dedicated to the study of environmental issues of solar cell production. The students will learn modern technological approaches and industry innovations used in production waste utilisation and recycling solar energy system components. The systems and processes necessary for improvement of environmental aspects of solar cells and modules production are also studied.

As a result of the course the students acquire knowledge about estimating the quantitative characteristics of the solar energy on the ground and in space. As well as studying the rational use of natural resources and the organization of measures for environmental protection in the industry.

Course Format

Hours of lectureHours of discussionHours in laboratoryHours of independent studyTotal numbers of hours

Course Content

  1. Solar radiation and environmental issues. Introduction
  2. Estimating the solar energy resource
  3. Set of standard solar radiation observations
  4. Quantitative characteristics of solar radiation, depending on the ground conditions. Associated problems
  5. The methods of calculating the flux density of incident solar radiation on the horizon and the inclined surface of the selection of regions of similar climate conditions
  6. The life-cycle of solar panels in various climatic conditions
  7. Selection of the type of battery: material, design, etc., as a function of climatic and geographical conditions of the final operating locations
  8. Improvement of ecological situation in the world through the use of alternative energy sources
  9. Waste-free production: the possibility of reuse of degraded solar modules, battery systems and structures
  10. Disposal of products production, marriage, etc.
  11. Problems of utilization of space debris
  12. The impact on the ecology of enterprises producing solar systems and components for them
  13. Mineral resources
  14. Stocks of water and land resources of the planet
  15. purification systems of waste production by photovoltaic plants, to reduce environmental damage
  16. Current developments in filed of renewable energy


Primary textbooks:

  1. Russell H. Plante. Solar Energy, Photovoltaics, and Domestic Hot Water. Academic Press,2014

Additional textbooks:

  1. Augustin McEvoy, Tom Markvart and Luis Castaner. Practical Handbook of Photovoltaics (Second Edition) Fundamentals and Applications. Academic Press, 2012
  2. M.D. Archer, M.A. Green. Clean Electricity from Photovoltaics (2nd Edition). Elsevier Inc,2014
  3. Dorota Chwieduk. Solar Energy in Buildings. Academic Press,2014


Class participation10%
Homework assignments30%
Midterm exam20%
Final exam50%