Maximum Power Point Tracking of Multiple Photovoltaic Arrays: A Particle Swarm Optimization Approach

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1 January 2011

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Multiple photovoltaic (PV) modules feeding a common load is the most common form of power distribution used in solar PV systems. In such systems, providing individual maximum power point tracking (MPPT) schemes for each of the PV modules increases the cost. Furthermore, its v-i characteristic exhibits multiple local maximum power points (MPPs) during partial shading, making it difficult to find the global MPP using conventional single-stage (CSS) tracking. To overcome this difficulty, the authors propose a novel MPPT algorithm by introducing a particle swarm optimization (PSO) technique. The proposed algorithm uses only one pair of sensors to control multiple PV arrays, thereby resulting in lower cost, higher overall efficiency, and simplicity with respect to its implementation. The validity of the proposed algorithm is demonstrated through experimental studies. In addition, a detailed performance comparison with conventional fixed voltage, hill climbing, and Fibonacci search MPPT schemes are presented. Algorithm robustness was verified for several complicated partial shading conditions, and in all cases this method took about 2 s to find the global MPP.