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A Stand-alone Photovoltaic Supercapacitor

Battery Hybrid Energy Storage System


M.E. Glavin, Paul K.W. Chan, S. Armstrong, and W.G Hurley, IEEE Fellow
Power Electronics Research Centre
National University of Ireland Galway, Galway, Ireland.
E-mail: margaret.glavin@nuigalway.ie
AbstractMost of the stand-alone photovoltaic (PV) systems
require an energy storage buffer to supply continuous
energy to the load when there is inadequate solar
irradiation. Typically, Valve Regulated Lead Acid (VRLA)
batteries are utilized for this application. However,
supplying a large burst of current, such as motor startup,
from the battery degrades battery plates, resulting in
destruction of the battery. An alterative way of supplying
large bursts of current is to combine VRLA batteries and
supercapacitors to form a hybrid storage system, where the
battery can supply continuous energy and the
supercapacitor can supply the instant power to the load. In
this paper, the role of the supercapacitor in a PV Energy
Control Unit (ECU) is investigated by using
Matlab/Simulink models. The ECU monitors and optimizes
the power flow from the PV to the battery-supercapacitor
hybrid and the load. Three different load conditions are
studied, including a peak current load, pulsating current
load and a constant current load. The simulation results
show that the hybrid storage system can achieve higher
specific power than the battery storage system.
Index TermsPhotovoltaic, Lead acid battery, Energy
Control Unit (ECU), Supercapacitor.
I. INTRODUCTION
The world is approaching peak oil and the ability to
produce high quality, inexpensive, and economically
extractable oil on demand is diminishing. Peak oil and the
environmental impact of fossil fuel utilization, has
encouraged a growth in the area of renewable energies
such as wind and solar power.
In remote areas stand-alone photovoltaic systems are
most common. A typical stand-alone system Fig. 1(a)
incorporates a photovoltaic panel, regulator, energy
storage system, and load [1]. Generally the most common
storage technology employed is the VRLA battery
because of its low cost and wide availability. Photovoltaic
panels are not an ideal source for battery charging; the
output is unreliable and heavily dependent on weather
conditions, therefore an optimum charge/ discharge cycle
cannot be guaranteed, resulting in a low battery state of
charge (SOC). Low battery SOC leads to sulphation and
stratification, both of which shorten battery life [2, 3].
Certain load applications require high current for a
period of time e.g. motor starting applications; the starting
current requirement can be 6-10 times the normal
operating current of the motor. Normally the peak current
requirements are satisfied by the VRLA battery. VRLA
batteries in this situation are large in order to deal with the
high current being removed from the battery. The peak
current demand might only need to be met for a few
(a)
(b)
Figure 1. Block diagram of (a) conventional and (b) proposed
photovoltaic system
seconds at a particular time. Sizing the battery around this
can prove costly; in photovoltaic systems the batteries are
replaced typically every 3-5 years depending on the
application.
By utilizing a battery supercapacitor hybrid energy
storage system as shown in Fig. 1(b) the battery size can
be reduced and a higher SOC can be maintained. The
supercapacitor has a greater power density than the
battery, which allows the supercapacitor to provide more
power over a short period of time. Conversely, the battery
has a much higher energy density when compared to a
supercapacitor allowing the battery to store more energy
and release it over a long period of time. In Table 1 the
battery and the supercapacitor are compared under various
headings [4-6]. In the hybrid system the peak power
requirements of the load are supplied by the
supercapacitor and the VRLA battery supplies the lower
continuous power requirements [7-10].
The proposed Energy Control Unit (ECU) aims to
optimize the battery supercapacitor hybrid storage system
to reduce the size of the battery and extend the life of the
battery by avoiding deep discharge through high currents.
The ECU monitors the battery, supercapacitor and
photovoltaic panel current, voltage and temperature in
addition to the load power requirements. The ECU
estimates the battery and supercapacitor SOC, optimizes
the energy from the photovoltaic panel and controls the
flow of energy throughout the system.
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TABLE I. BATTERY VERSUS SUPERCAPACITOR PERFORMANCE [6]
Lead Acid Battery Supercapacitor
Specific Energy
Density (Wh/kg)
10-100 1 10
Specific Power
Density (W/kg)
<1000 <10,000
Cycle Life 1,000 > 500,000
Charge/Discharge
Efficiency
70 85% 85 - 98%
Fast Charge Time 1 - 5h 0.3 30 sec
Discharge Time 0.3 3h 0.3 30s
Matlab/Simulink is used for the design and
optimization of the system. This paper outlines the
models of the various components. The proposed VRLA
battery supercapacitor hybrid storage model is described
and simulations are presented comparing the proposed
system with conventional battery storage under three
different load types; a peak current load, pulsating current
load, and a constant current load.
II. MATLAB/SIMULINK MODELS
A. Photovoltaic Model
A simple photovoltaic cell equivalent circuit model
is shown in Fig. 2 [11]. The model consists of a current
source I
ph
(represents cell photocurrent), a series
resistance R
s
(the internal resistance of each cell) and a
diode. The net output current of the photovoltaic cell is
the differences between the photocurrent I
ph
and the diode
current I
D
as described by the following equation,
|
|
.
|

\
|
|
.
|

\
| +
= = 1
) (
mkT
R I V q
e I I I I I
s s s
o ph D ph s
(1)
where m is the ideality factor of the diode, k is
Boltsmanns constant, T is the absolute temperature of the
cell, q is electron charge, V
s
is the voltage applied across
the cell, and I
o
is the dark saturation current.
The cells are connected in series and parallel to form
a PV module. The model simulates a BP solar BP 350
50W photovoltaic panel in Simulink. There are 36 cells in
series and 2 parallel branches. In the model, the ideality
factor, m, is equal to 2.0077 where it achieves the
maximum power point at V
s
= 17.5V and I
s
= 2.9A at T =
25
o
C. Fig. 3 and Fig. 4 illustrate the simulated I-V and P-
V characteristics of the photovoltaic panel under various
temperature conditions respectively.
B. Battery Model
Batteries are the main storage technology used in PV
systems. The battery model is used to analyze the effects
of different charge rates, state of charge (SOC), and state
of health (SOH) of the battery. The optimum battery size
for a particular application can be obtained by performing
various test scenarios. Simulations are used to compare
different storage technologies without the need for
expensive test beds.
Figure 2. Photovoltaic cell model
Figure 3. I-V characteristics of BP 350 photovoltaic module
Figure 4. P-V characteristics of BP 350 photovoltaic module
A simple equivalent circuit battery model is shown in
Fig. 5. The battery model takes into account the battery
state of charge (SOC) and deep of charge (DOC). The
battery' s usable capacity decrease s with increasing
discharge current, the battery DOC measures the fraction
of the battery' s charge to usable capacity.The model
includes an open circuit battery voltage E
oc
, internal
resistance R
0
and two RC parallel branches [12-14]. The
model equations are shown (2) - (6).
) 1 (
0
SOC K E E
e oc
= (2)
)) 1 ( (
1 10 1
SOC K e R R = (3)
DOC
R
R
20
2
= (4)
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International Power Electronics and Motion Control Conference (EPE-PEMC 2008) 1689
}
= t d i
C
SOC
batt
n
1
1 (5)
}
= t d i
i C
DOC
batt
avg
) (
1
1 (6)
where: SOC is the state of charge of the battery
DOC is the deep of charge of the battery
C
n
is the battery capacity
C(i
avg
) is the current-dependent battery capacity
(obtained in datasheet)
E
0
is the open circuit voltage when the battery is
fully charge
K
e
is a constant
R
10
is the 1
st
RC branch constant in

1
is the 1
st
RC branch time constant in sec
K
1
is a constant
R
20
is the 2
nd
RC branch constant in

2
is the 2
nd
RC branch time constant in sec
Fig. 6 shows the simulated discharge characteristics
curves for a Yuasa Np18-12 lead acid battery for various
C-rates. From testing the Yuasa Np18-12 battery used has
E
0
= 12.85, K
e
= 1.7, R
0
= 0.12 for charging and 0.057
for discharging, R
10
= 0.16 for charging and 0.02 for
discharging, K
1
= 7, and R
20
= 0.0055 for both charging
and discharging. Fig. 7 and Fig. 8 show the 0.2C pulse
charge and 0.2C pulse discharge of the battery
respectively.
Figure 5. Battery model
Figure 6. Battery discharge characteristics
Figure 7. 0.2 pulse charge of Yuasa NP18-12 battery
Figure 8. 0.2C pulse discharge of Yuasa NP18-12 battery
C. Supercapacitor Model
Fig. 9 shows the classical equivalent circuit model
for the supercapacitor [15]. The model consists of three
components, the capacitance, the equivalent series
resistance (ESR), and the equivalent parallel resistance
(EPR). The ESR is a loss term that models the internal
heating in the capacitor and is most important during
charging and discharging. The EPR models the current
leakage effect and will impact the long term energy
storage performance of the supercapacitor and C is the
capacitance. Equations (7)-(9) describe the ESR, EPR
and terminal voltage of the supercapacitor.
i
V
ESR
A
A
= (7)
C
V
V
t t
EPR
|
|
.
|

\
|

=
1
2
1 2
ln
) (
(8)
init c
c
c c c
V d
EPR
e
i
C
i ESR v
_
) (
1
+ + =
}
t (9)
where: V
1
is the initial self-discharge voltage at t
1
V
2
is the finial self-discharge voltage at t
2
C is the rated capacitance
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9 change in voltage at turn on of load
, change in current at turn on of load
V
c_init
is the initial capacitor voltage
i
c
is the capacitor current
The function of the voltage-dependent capacitor C
can be obtained with curve fitting from the
charging/discharging measurements. The model is
verified with Nesscap 2.7V/600F supercapacitor. Fig. 10
shows the 10A charging, rest and 5A discharging of the
model with an ESR of 1m and an EPR of 258.
III. BATTERY STORAGE SYSTEM
A. Photovoltic Battery Storage Model
The most common setup for standalone photovoltaic
systems, shown in Fig. 1(a), consists of a photovoltaic
panel, converter, load, and battery storage. The energy
produced from the photovoltaic panel is stored in the
rechargeable battery to supply the load requirements
when discrepancies arise between available and required
energy. Deep discharge batteries are designed to be
discharged down to as much as 80% depth of discharge
(DOD) repeatedly and have thicker plates then car
batteries making them the preferable choice for PV
storage. Generally the battery is sized to enable it to
supply power to the load for a period of 2-3 days,
resulting in a large battery pack that will need to be
replaced every few years.
Figure 9. Supercapacitor equivalent circuit model
Figure 10. Supercapacitor charge/discharge characteristics
B. Battery Management System (BMS)
The Battery Management System (BMS) controls the
flow of energy from the photovoltaic panel to the battery
and load. The BMS is responsible for calculating the
battery SOC, varying the DC-DC converter duty cycle,
and implementing the charging algorithm. The BMS is
based on SOC estimation. The battery charging/
discharging is dependent on both the battery SOC and the
load requirements as described by Table II.
The DC-DC converter implements Maximum Power
Point Tracking (MPPT), charges the battery, and delivers
energy to the load. Sensors and measurement circuits are
responsible for measuring the voltages and currents of the
solar panel, battery, and load along with the solar panel
and battery temperature. This information is used by the
control algorithm to enhance the performance of the
system, making the best use of the available energy to
maintain the battery at a high SOC but also ensuring that
the load demand is met at all times.
IV. HYBRID STORAGE SYSTEM
A. Photovoltic Hybrid Storage Model
The proposed Hybrid storage model consists of a
VRLA battery bank and a supercapacitor battery bank as
shown in Fig. 1(b). The hybrid system adopts the
advantages of both technologies, high power density from
the supercapacitor and high energy density from the
battery. The supercapacitor supplies the high peak power
requirements and the battery bank supplies the low power
requirements, resulting in a reduction in the battery pack
size.
TABLE II. BATTERY MANAGEMENT CONDITIONS
Condition Action
PV Power = Load
Battery SOC High
PV supplies load
No battery charging
PV Power = Load
Battery SOC Low
PV supplies load
No battery charging
PV Power > Load
Battery SOC High
PV supplies load
No battery charging
PV Power > Load
Battery SOC Low
PV supplies load
PV charges battery
PV Power < Load
Battery SOC High
PV supplies load
Battery supplies load
PV Power < Load
Battery SOC Low
PV supplies load
Battery supplies load until
minimum SOC is reached then
shut down load
No PV Power
Battery SOC High
Battery supplies load
No PV Power
Battery SOC Low
Shut down load
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B. Proposed Energy Control Unit (ECU)
The Energy Control Unit (ECU) controls the
complete photovoltaic system. The ECU is responsible
for charging the battery/supercapacitor hybrid and
supplying power to the load according to the conditions
outlined in Table III.
The power available from the photovoltaic panel is
used to supply load power, with excess energy being used
for battery and supercapacitor charging. The ECU
implements MPPT capturing the maximum power
available from the panel. Various sensors are utilized
throughout the system to measure the voltage and current
of the battery, supercapacitor and panel along with the
power requirement of the load. These observations enable
intelligent decisions to be made about how to best utilize
the available energy in order to avoid situations where the
load must be shut down due to low battery and
supercapacitor SOC under conditions of inadequate solar
irradiation.
V. SYSTEM LOAD COMPARISON
The battery management system (BMS) was
compared to the proposed hybrid energy control unit
(ECU) under different load profiles as outlined below.
The solar irradiation profile utilized for the simulations is
shown in Fig. 11.
A. Peak Power Load
Fig. 12 shows a peak current load application that
has been used to analyses the benefits of the
supercapacitor. Examples of peak load applications are
motor starting applications were the starting current
maybe 6-10 times the continuous operating current of the
motor. The profile of Fig. 12 has an initial current of
8.33A and a continuous current of 1.375A with the load
operating for 45mins every hour throughout the day. Fig.
13 shows the battery SOC with BMS, battery SOC with
ECU and supercapacitor SOC with ECU. In the Hybrid
system the battery supplies a continuous current of 0.8A,
a discharge rate of 0.05C, this current supplies power to
the load and also recharges the ultracapacitor. A 12V
1200F supercapacitor supplies the remaining load current.
The hybrid system results in the battery being maintained
at a higher SOC.
TABLE III. HYBRID SYSTEM CONDITIONS AND ACTIONS
Photovoltaic
Power
Battery
SOC
Supercapacitor
SOC
Supply Load >0 High High
Charge Battery >Load Low Low/High
Charge
Supercapacitor
> Load High Low
Shutdown None Low Low
0 5 10 15 20 25
0
100
200
300
400
500
600
700
800
Solar Radiatio n Profile
Time (Hrs )
S
o
l
a
r
r
a
d
i
a
t
i
o
n
(
W
/
m
2
)
Figure 11. Solar radiation profile
0 5 10 15 20 25
0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
Peak Current Load Pro file
Time (Hrs )
C
u
r
r
e
n
t
(
A
)
Figure 12. Peak current load profile
0 5 10 15 20 25
0.4
0.5
0.6
0.7
0.8
0.9
1
1.1
Bat tery Sup erc apac it o r SOC Peak Current Load
Time (Hrs )
S
O
C
BMS b attery SOC
ECU b attery SOC
ECU s uperc ap acit o r SOC
Figure 13. Battery supercapacitor SOC for peak current load
B. Pulsating Load
The second load profile used in the analysis is a
pulsating current load. A typical application is the
transmitting system. In the simulation, the supercapacitors
in the hybrid system deliver the pulse power while the
battery supplies the remaining constant current.
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Fig. 14 shows the profile of the pulsating current
load. The load operates for 200s out of 250s. The load has
a low continuous current of 0.42A and a high pulse
current of 2.08A with a duty cycle of 0.5 and a period of
20s, the load operating over 24 hrs.
Fig. 15 shows the battery SOC in BMS, battery SOC
in ECU and supercapacitor SOC with ECU. The Hybrid
system battery supplies a continuous current of 0.8A
(0.05C) with the remaining current being supplied by the
supercapacitor. The simulation results show that the
hybrid system allowed the battery to be maintained at a
higher SOC.
C. Constant Power Load
A constant current load of 1.04A (0.06C of the
battery) is simulated. The load was analyzed in both BMS
and ECU. In the simulation, the battery current is limited
at 1.04A. Without pulse current in the load profile, all the
current is supplied from the battery in the hybrid system.
Fig. 16 shows the SOC in both systems. In the simulation,
the hybrid system has a lower SOC then battery system
because the battery needs to charge the supercapacitors
due to self discharge.
0 0.02 0.04 0.06 0.08 0.1
0
0.5
1
1.5
2
2.5
Puls ating Current Load
Time (Hrs )
C
u
r
r
e
n
t
(
A
)
Figure 14. Pulse current load profile
0 5 10 15 20 25
0.4
0.5
0.6
0.7
0.8
0.9
1
1.1
Batt ery Superc apac ito r S OC Puls e Current
Time (Hrs )
S
O
C
BMS battery SOC
ECU b attery S OC
ECU s uperc ap acito r SOC
Figure 15. Battery supercapacitor SOC for pulsating load
0 5 10 15 20 25
0.4
0.5
0.6
0.7
0.8
0.9
1
1.1
Battery Sup erc apac ito r SOC Co nstant Current Lo ad
Time (Hrs )
S
O
C
BMS b attery SOC
ECU b attery SOC
ECU s uperc apacito r SOC
Figure 16. Battery supercapacitor SOC for constant current load
VI. OPTIMIZATION
Photovoltaic are unreliable energy sources that are
heavily dependent on weather conditions. The power
output of the PV panel increases with increasing
irradiation but decreases with increasing temperature,
operating at its most efficient at high irradiation and low
temperature. The power output from a BP 350 50W solar
panel for a average day in June (best conditions) and
December (worst conditions) is illustrated in Fig. 17, data
obtained from [19] for Newcastle, England; which could
be typical for a cloudy climate in northern Europe.
To ensure that the load requirements can be met
throughout the year, photovoltaic systems are sized for
worst case conditions, from Fig. 17 sizing is performed
according to December figures. Other considerations are
The allowable dept of discharge for VRLA batteries
is 80%.
The days of Autonomy, which refers to the number of
days a battery system will provide a given load
without being recharged by the photovoltaic array or
other source is typically 3 to 5 days.
0 5 10 15 20 25
0
5
10
15
20
25
Time (Hrs )
P
o
w
e
r
(
W
)
BP350 50W Panel June/Decemb er Po wer
June
Dec ember
Figure 17. BP350W June and December average power
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Energy audits are performed to obtain information
about the load profile that needs to be supplied from the
PV system. Many appliances require higher starting power
compared to operating power as outlined in Table IV [20].
The proposed ECU supplies this starting power from the
supercapacitor. Fig. 18 shows the domestic profile
obtained from a flat in Newcastle, England for a week in
April. The average power consumption was recorded over
5 minute time intervals throughout 2005[21].
From Fig. 18 various spikes in power can be observed
throughout the day. Spikes of approximately 9 times the
continuous power requirements are observed, this would
result in a large current being removed from the battery
reducing the battery SOC. To ensure adequate power is
available the battery pack size is increased to supply the
large current. The supercapacitor can complement the PV
panel and the battery to supply the high power
requirements, allowing for a smaller battery pack.
The domestic load profile on Monday shown in Fig.
18 was scaled down and simulated with both the BMS and
t he ECU model s to observe the benefi ts of the
supercapacitor in a domestic application. Fig. 19 shows
the solar radiation for a typical April day in Newcastle.
The output current from the MPPT is shown in Fig. 21.
Fig. 22 shows the SOC of the Np18-12 Yuasa lead
acid battery and a 12V 1200F supercapacitor. The battery
in the hybrid system supplied continuous current of 0.5A
(0.03C) with the supercapacitor supplying the remainder.
It is observed from Fig. 22 that the hybrid system
maintains the battery at a greater SOC with the final SOC
for the hybrid system being 72% while the BMS has a
battery SOC of 50%.
The hybrid system allows for an increase in battery
SOC as outlined in Table V with the addition of a 12V
1200F supercapacitor pack. Supercapacitors are currently
expensive components, but with the advances in
technology and the increasing growth in the market the
cost is being reduced.
VRLA batteries are generally large in photovoltaic
systems and although there is an increase in SOC with the
addition of the supercapacitor bank it will prove costly.
Additional optimization is required to find the optimum
balance between the VRLA battery and the supercapacitor
bank. Other battery and fuel cell technology can be
investigated to see if they have greater benefit.
TABLE IV. APPLIANCE STARTING AND CONTINUOUS POWER
Appliance
Starting
Power
Continuous
Power
Ratio
Clothes Washer
5,042 225 22.4
Well Pump 1/2hp
1950 150 13
Clothes Dryer
4208 334 12.6
Fridge/Freezer
2700 600 4.5
Freezer
2100 800 2.6
Vacuum cleaner
2012 818 2.5
0 5 10 15 20 25
0
500
1000
1500
2000
2500
3000
3500
4000
Time (Hrs )
P
o
w
e
r
(
W
)
Domes tic Load Pro file Ap ril
Mo nday
Tues day
Wed nes day
Thursd ay
Frid ay
Saturday
Sund ay
Figure 18. Domestic load profile for week in April
0 5 10 15 20 25
0
50
100
150
200
250
300
350
400
450
500
Solar Radiat ion Pr ofile
Time (Hrs )
S
o
l
a
r
R
a
d
i
a
t
i
o
n
(
W
/
m
2
)
Figure 19. Solar radiation for April
0 5 10 15 20 25
0
0.2
0.4
0.6
0.8
1
1.2
1.4
1.6
1.8
MPPT Output Current
Time (Hrs )
C
u
r
r
e
n
t
(
A
)
BMS MPPT c urrent
ECU MPPT c urrent
Figure 20. MPPT output current
VII. CONCLUSIONS
An Energy Control Unit (ECU) for a photovoltaic
battery supercapacitor hybrid system has been developed.
Simulations have been performed to compare the ECU to
the standard photovoltaic battery storage system under
different load conditions; a peak current load, pulsating
current load, constant current load, and a domestic profile.
Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) allows the
maximum power to be gained from the photovoltaic panel
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and the proposed ECU is responsible for calculating the
battery and supercapacitor SOC. The ECU controls the
system based of the available power, battery/
supercapacitor SOC and the required load power. From
the simulations performed the addition of a supercapacitor
bank will increase the battery SOC for peak and pulse
current loads.
0 5 10 15 20 25
0
2
4
6
8
10
12
14
Load Current
Time (Hrs )
C
u
r
r
e
n
t
(
A
)
Figure 21. Load current
0 5 10 15 20 25
0.2
0.3
0.4
0.5
0.6
0.7
0.8
0.9
1
1.1
Battery Superc apac ito r SOC Domes tic Load
Time (Hrs )
S
O
C
BMS battery SOC
ECU b attery SOC
ECU s uperc apacitor SOC
Figure 22. Battery supercapacitor SOC
TABLE V.BATTERY SOC COMPARISON
LOAD ECU Battery
SOC
BMS Battery
SOC
Increase in
SOC
Peak Load 69% 57% 12%
Pulse Load 69% 58% 11%
Constant Load 56% 59% (3%)
Domestic Load 72% 50% 22%
ACKNOWLEDGMENT
This project was supported by Enterprise Ireland under
the Commercialisation Fund in Technology Development
(CFTD).
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