Research Group SOLAR

SOLAR – Systems for conversion of solar energy

The SOLAR group works in research and development activities devoted to solar photovoltaic, low-temperature solar thermal and concentrated solar power systems.



Permanent Staff

Paolo DI LEO

Giovanni Vincenzo FRACASTORO



Roberto ZANINO

Not-Permanent Staff


Alessandro CIOCIA


Activity description

Experimental characterization of operation for solar cells, PV modules, PV arrays and inverters: for PV technologies applied to terrestrial systems it has been developed an instrumentation for monitoring the behavior of PV devices in laboratory and in field, to detect efficiency degradation produced by temperature and humidity and mechanical loads coming from sun-tracker motions and “snow/wind”. Regarding the inverters, the MPPT and DC-AC efficiencies are determined as well as the power-quality parameters in grid connection.

Electroluminescence tests: for crystalline silicon technologies, the electroluminescence tests in dark room are carried out to detect structural defects (cracks, micro-cracks) and electric defects (shunts due to PID, finger interruptions in frontal contacts) of solar cells.

Thermal-electrical models for the simulation of operation in PV generators: thermal models for determination of heat exchanges inside the solar cells have been integrated with their equivalent circuits, depending on irradiance and temperature. This simulation procedure can be applied to conventional PV modules and unconventional PV modules with water cooling.

Experimental characterization of performance for solar thermal systems: a procedure for monitoring the performance of solar domestic hot water systems has been developed in field on real plants. The instrumentation has been selected according to types, specifications and usage modes and the annual hot water production has been estimated.

Monitoring and simulation of performance for solar cooling systems: the performance of solar cooling systems has been simulated by dynamic software and verified by experiments. The software has been employed to develop sensitivity analysis and to optimally design the surface of collectors and their storage volume.

Concentrated Solar Power (CSP):the cost reduction of kilowatt-hour from CSP is essential for an effective penetration of this technology on the market and, in turn, it requires an efficiency improvement. In the case of tower CSP systems, different types of novel receivers are studied from the viewpoint of the convective loss reduction. At this aim, the methodology of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) is strongly applied.


The instrumentation is located into 2 different laboratories: one is the Ener-tronic laboratory and the second is the Applied Physics laboratory.

The instrumentation is located partly in Ener-tronic laboratory and partly on its terrace. It is used for electrical measurements of solar cell, PV module, PV array and inverter efficiencies and electroluminescence tests. The responsible for this instrumentation is Filippo Spertino.

The instrumentation, located into Applied Physics laboratory, is used for measuring solar irradiation and performance of solar thermal plants. The responsible for this instrumentation is Giovanni Vincenzo Fracastoro.


Sandia National Laboratory, Albuquerque (NM), USA

Centro Nacional de Energias Renovables (CENER), Pamplona, Spain

ERC Group sector

PE7_2 Electrical and electronic engineering: semiconductors, components, systems

PE8_6 Energy systems (production, distribution, application)

PE8_4 Computational engineering