Energy is one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – a post-2015 blueprint recently agreed upon by the United Nations, to address the energy poverty problem in the global community. This plan, coupled with the need to mitigate climate change and also find alternative energy options to fossil fuels, is expected to continuously lead to increased interests in the development of renewable energy systems, around the world. Such systems have the potential to address the energy deficit in the world’s energy poor regions, e.g. sub-Saharan Africa, where about 50% of the 1.2 billion people in the world live without access to electricity. This paper first discusses the state-of-the-art of photovoltaic (PV) technologies worldwide. It then presents the development of solar panel plant, using the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) 7.5 MW solar panel plant in Nigeria as a case study, which is established to build local capacity in PV technologies and also promote their widespread applications. The plant layout design, materials, equipment and production line are discussed. A new technique called Fundamental PV Module Performance Analysis (FPVMPA) is employed to assess the performance of a single NASENI 190 W module in terms of power output, energy yield, capture losses, fill factor, and efficiency, allowing the prediction of the module performance pre-installation, based on IEC 61724 standards. Furthermore, emphasis is laid on the impact of temperature on the module, which affects its efficiency and overall outputs. These analyses are then used to evaluate the performance of a 54.72 kW Photovoltaic Electric Power Generation Plant (PEPGP) that is proposed for a remote mini-estate in Kutunku, Nigeria. Future research directions are also provided on module life cycle analysis, end-of-life management and recycling. Results show the module performance under varying irradiance and temperature conditions, which can be useful for design, planning and application purposes.
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