04-801/H1-Carnegie Mellon University Africa - Carnegie Mellon University


Photovoltaic Systems Engineering

Course discipline: ECE
Units: 6
Lecture/Lab/Rep hours/week: 4 hours lecture/week

Semester/year offered (fall/spring, even/odd years): Fall, all years
Pre-requisites: None

Course description:

This course will introduce basic engineering concepts for photovoltaic systems. Topics covered include solar resource assessment, PV cells and modules, system components, performance modeling, system sizing, loss mechanisms, energy yield assessment and project economics. Different applications and business models for PV technology will be discussed including utility scale PV power plants, rooftop systems and off-grid systems. The implications of relevant policy will be explored including net metering and independent power producers.

Learning objectives:

Students will understand different measures of solar resource and which measures are appropriate for different applications. They will understand how photovoltaic cells and modules operate and implications on system design and performance. They will learn about PV system components and how to size these components. They will learn how to design PV systems for various applications both on and off-grid. Finally, they will learn how to estimate energy yield of PV systems and economic performance.


After completing this course, students will be able to assess local solar resource, identify and size components of PV systems and estimate energy yield and economic performance for utility scale, rooftop and off-grid PV systems.

Content details:

  • Solar resource assessment
  • PV cell and module technology
  • System components
  • Applications and business models
  • System sizing and array design
  • Energy yield assessment and loss mechanisms
  • PV system economics

Delivery: Face-to-face

Faculty: Nathan Williams