About this online course


Note: This course can be started until 10 July 2024, and it will be closed for all participants on 24 July 2024. Please note that all assignments should be submitted before the end date in order to obtain the certificate.

Discover the characteristics and operation of the various steps required to efficiently convert the energy of photons into electricity, in small photovoltaic systems.

This course provides you with practical experience with photovoltaic (PV) modules in small systems. Are you familiar with the theory of  solar cells and modules, with different PV system configurations and topologies, with the behavior of different PV system components, and with the principles of operation of electronic converters and maximum power point trackers (MPPT)? Then in this course you will see – in real time – how all these characteristics and factors affect the operation of a small photovoltaic system.

You will gain this practical experience in a virtual lab environment, in which you will conduct experiments. This course includes 4 parts as below: 

Part 1 – PV Module Characteristics

You will investigate the characteristics of photovoltaic modules, including the effects on the performance resulting from light intensity, module tilt, shading and season of the year.

Part 2 – PV Module Configurations and Systems

You will set up and characterize several small PV systems to gain insight into the characteristics of different configurations, the effects of partial shading and bypass diodes, and the topologies of off-grid and grid-connected PV systems.

Part 3 – Off-Grid and Grid-Connected PV Systems

You will put together and study the details of off-grid and grid-connected PV systems, to learn more about their respective architectures, the operation of all system components and the overall efficiency of PV systems.

Part 4 – DC-DC Converters and Maximum Power Point Trackers

You will analyze the basic operation of DC-DC buck converters and build your own maximum power point tracker, to better understand the logic behind the most common MPPT algorithms and to investigate their advantages and disadvantages.

This course is part of the Solar and Chemical Energy Conversions for Green Hydrogen program. This program offers renewable energy professionals the opportunity to enrich their understanding of the theory and best practices behind the entire conversion process that transforms the energy of light through photovoltaic systems into green hydrogen – through practical work. It also suits engineers new to the industry who seek a more “hands on” experience with solar and hydrogen production equipment who will gain a more pragmatic understanding of their work.
Package price - the full professional certificate program consisting of two courses: € 650 (saving € 140). Read more.

What You'll Learn:

After conducting experiments in this course you will be able to::

  • Characterize the performance of PV modules and its dependence on light intensity, module tilt, shading, and season.
  • Set up small PV systems and understand the operation of different system configurations and topologies, as well as noting the effects of partial shading and the operation of bypass diodes.
  • Appreciate the differences between off-grid and grid-connected PV systems and the behavior of all their components and assess the performance of entire systems and their components;.
  • Analyze the performance of DC-DC converters and build and assess the principles of operation behind maximum power point trackers.

About the PVMD group at TU Delft

The Photovoltaic Materials and Devices (PVMD) group has more than twenty years' experience in the field of PV device characterization and modeling, as well as in researching the use of solar energy to produce green hydrogen. The group has earned its academic reputation through a significant number of publications on the topic, authored by the instructors of this online course. The group has been in direct contact with leading firms in the solar energy sector all over the world and continues to contribute to further advancement in the field. Specifically, the group contributes to the optimization of thin-film and wafer-based silicon solar cells, the development of novel concepts using nano-structured materials for future high-efficiency solar cells, the demonstration of smart modules and PV-power multi-functional building elements, and the energy yield modeling of X-Integrated PV systems.


    Course Syllabus:

    Part 1: PV Module Characteristics

    Characterize and explain the performance of photovoltaic modules.

    In the first part of the course, you will learn the different characteristics of PV modules in different operating conditions. You will experiment with a PV module:

    • Illuminated by an artificial light source with varying intensity
    • Titled at various angles in relation to the light source
    • With different shading configurations
    • Illuminated by a light source that simulates the position and path of the sun in different seasons.

    Part 2: PV Module Configurations and Systems

    Investigate and assess PV systems with different module configurations, exposed to partial shading and with different grid topologies.

    In the second part of the course, you will characterize the operation of a variety of small PV systems. You will carry out the following experiments:

    • Connect modules in different configurations (series/parallel) and compare their performance
    • Study the effect of partial shading in the presence or absence of bypass diodes
    • Set up off-grid and grid-connected PV systems and analyze similarities and differences.

    Part 3: Off-Grid and Grid-Connected PV Systems

    Analyze and understand the operation of off-grid and grid-connected PV systems and of all their components.

    In the third part of the course, you will investigate the performance of off-grid and grid-connected PV systems. You will:

    • Put together an off-grid PV system and study the performance when using two different charge controllers
    • Build a grid-connected PV system and assess its performance and AC characteristics.

    Part 4: DC-DC Converters and Maximum Power Point Trackers

    Study the operation of DC-DC buck converters and investigate the logic behind common maximum power point tracking (MPPT) algorithms.

    In the fourth part of the course, you will learn about DC-DC converters and MPPT algorithms. You will:

    • Build a buck converter and assess its performance;
    • Implement an MPPT algorithm to control the buck converter and evaluate its performance.



    If you successfully complete this course you will earn a professional education certificate and you are eligible to receive 4 Continuing Education Units (CEUs).

    View sample certificate


    This course is primarily geared towards working professionals.


    To successfully complete this course, learners must know the basic operational principles of photovoltaic modules and systems, and of electrolyzers and fuel cells. The following free online courses offered by TU Delft provide ideal refresher courses for those wishing to prepare for this course:


    If you have any questions about this course or the TU Delft online learning environment, please visit our Help & Support page.

    Enroll now Enroll with STAP

    • Starts: Anytime (Self-Paced)
    • Fee: €525
    • Group fee: contact us
    • Enrollment open until: Jul 10, 2024
    • Length: Self-Paced
    • Effort: 6 - 7 hours per week / 6 weeks

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