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This paper elucidates one of the tracking schemes for a photovoltaic (PV) systems using Cuk converter operating in discontinuous inductor current mode (DICM) as an interface. A method for efficiently maximizing the output power of a solar panel supplying a load or battery bus under varying meteorological conditions is investigated and results presented therein. The incremental conductance (InCond) method of maximum power point tracking (MPPT) using the Cuks dc to dc converter operating in a discontinuous inductor current mode (DICM) was modeled and studied in relation to PV system interface. Also, laboratory setup was implemented based on the model. This was the main objective of the research. Similarly, the PV simulator was also modeled alongside with Cuk converter operating in DICM. MATLAB/SIMULINK software was used to carry out simulation test. With the incremental conductance method, the problem of sustained oscillation around the maximum power point of the solar panel which is the usual characteristic of the perturbation and observation method is essentially absent. The result disclosed that the power available for the load when MPPT was applied was 1.1 kW which gives a tolerance of 0.1% to the load it powers. But without MPPT, the available power is 0.9 kW using the same number of PV panels and batteries as back up. Hence, MPPT has 17.65% edge in power delivery over non-MPPT PV powered energy supply. An experimental prototype of a 1kW, 230V, 50Hz stand-alone solar based power supply with the incremental conductance scheme was successfully implemented using PIC 16F877 microcontroller, tested and results presented therein. The experimental results agreed with the simulated results.
Keywords: Maximum Power point tracking, Cuk converter, Photovoltaic system, PIC 16F877A micro-controller, inverter, batteries.