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The University of Southampton

FEEG6007 Principles of Photovoltaics, Fuel Cells and Batteries

Module Overview

This module covers the aspects of design and operation of modern fuels cells and photovoltaic systems. It discusses the fundamentals, structure, materials and operation of these systems. Students attending this module are expected to have understood the fundamentals of fuel cell and photovoltaic systems, thermodynamics materials and systems dynamics. By attending this module, students are expected to gain knowledge of the general design and working principle of fuel cells and photovoltaic systems. Pre-requisite: Part 1 and Part 2 or equivalent.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Electrochemical routes to energy conversion
  • The relative merits of batteries, fuel cells and redox flow cells
  • Solar radiation as an energy source
  • Solar cell operation and manufacture
  • Design and operation of a photovoltaic system
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Tackle simple problems of theoretical energy conversion
  • Relate cell current to materials conversion rates
  • Suggest an appropriate fuel cell or battery technology for a particular application
  • Analyse solar radiation in energy terms
  • Describe the fundamentals of photovoltaic energy conversion
  • Assess the operation and manufacture of a solar cell
  • Identify and size a photovoltaic system for a given application
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Access the literature on fuel cells and write reports on their development
  • Appreciate an industrial perspective of technology development
  • Process solar energy data for photovoltaic applications
  • Design a photovoltaic system
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Apply understanding to the fuel cells and photovoltaic energy generation systems into industry
  • Listening, identifying learning needs, evaluating sources and data, interpretation of data, problem solving, problem analysis


Fuel cells and energy storage systems (lectures + Revision): - An Introduction to Electrochemical Energy Conversion. Electrochemical vs. conventional energy conversion routes. Types of electrochemical cells for energy conversion (galvanic and electrolytic). Definitions of batteries, fuel cells, redox flow cells, solar cells, etc. Examples of electrochemical technology in energy conversion: applications. Energy conversion related to materials conversion. - Fuel Cells. Principle of a fuel cell and types of fuel cell. The proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell. PEM cell components and their characteristics. The membrane electrode assembly. Characterisation of performance. Voltage losses and their management. - Batteries and Redox Flow Cells: Principles of batteries. Types of cell. Application areas. Principle of a redox flow cell. Examples of redox couples. Power and energy characteristics. Load levelling and integrated energy applications. Characterisation of performance. Voltage losses and their management Photovoltaic systems (Lectures + Revision): - Solar energy technologies: a general overview: Solar radiation as an energy source. Black body radiation; the solar constant. Solar spectra: the concept of air mass. Scattering and absorption. - Solar cells: Band theory of semiconductors. Junctions; Shockley diode & solar cell equations. Crystalline, thin film and organic solar cells; manufacturing technologies. Ideal efficiencies. Solar cell modelling. - Photovoltaic systems. Introduction; overview of subsystems. Sizing of generator; determination of battery size using observed data.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

The teaching methods employed in the delivery of this module include: - Lectures - Solutions to assigned problems - Revision tutorials - Demonstrations and video material when appropriate - A web site with access to in-depth materials The learning activities include: - Individual reading of background material and course texts, plus work on examples. - Example sheets and worked solutions. - Assignment and self-study - Problem solving during lectures - Individual work on a case study/mini-project

Wider reading or practice18
Completion of assessment task18
Follow-up work18
Preparation for scheduled sessions18
Total study time150


Assessment Strategy

Relationship between the teaching, learning and assessment methods and the planned learning outcomes Teaching takes place mainly in the lecture sessions where the principles are explained and illustrated by examples and relevant applications. Some lectures will be given by an industrial expert on fuel cells to provide a commercial perspective on the technology. Students are expected to learn material through the use of web-based material, by self-study and by problem solving during the lectures/tutorials. Students will carry out an assignment to suggest a suitable fuel cell for a specific application. The corresponding report will be marked and feedback given. The students will also assessed by a 2 hour written examination at the end of the module.




MethodPercentage contribution
Continuous Assessment 20%
Final Assessment  80%


MethodPercentage contribution
Set Task 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Set Task 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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