The maximum theoretical performance of unconcentrated solar photovoltaic and thermoelectric generator systems

Rasmus Bjørk, Kaspar Kirstein Nielsen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

119 Downloads (Pure)


The maximum efficiency for photovoltaic (PV) and thermoelectric generator (TEG) systems without concentration is investigated. Both a combined system where the TEG is mounted directly on the back of the PV and a tandem system where the incoming sunlight is split, and the short wavelength radiation is sent to the PV and the long wavelength to the TEG, are considered. An analytical model based on the Shockley-Queisser efficiency limit for PVs and the TEG figure of merit parameter zT is presented. It is shown that for non-concentrated sunlight, even if the TEG operates at the Carnot efficiency and the PV performance is assumed independent of temperature, the maximum increase in efficiency is 4.5 percentage points (pp.) for the combined case and 1.8 pp. for the tandem case compared to a stand alone PV. For a more realistic case with a temperature dependent PV and a realistic TEG, the gain in performance is much lower. For the combined PV and TEG system it is shown that a minimum zT value is needed in order for the system to be more efficient than a stand alone PV system.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnergy Conversion and Management
Pages (from-to)264-268
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Thermoelectrics
  • Photovoltaics
  • Thermal
  • Efficiency
  • Carnot

Cite this