Improved Primary Reference Cell Calibrations for Higher Accuracy Photovoltaic Cell and Module Performance Measurements

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The adoption of photovoltaic (PV) modules for clean electricity relies on accurate measurements of their performance, which are essential for estimating their energy production potential. Herein, the calibration chain of PV cells and modules, with particular emphasis on primary reference cell calibrations, is discussed. Also, herein, the direct sunlight method the group has developed for these calibrations is presented and critical improvements and upgrades that lead to calibration uncertainty as low as 0.45% are discussed. The ultimate motivation behind this work is to provide low-uncertainty performance measurements of PV modules, and lowering the calibration uncertainty of primary reference cells is a key first step toward achieving this goal. As the use of solar electricity continues to grow, the demand for primary reference cell calibrations inevitably increases beyond what the small handful of primary calibration laboratories can provide today. Therefore, this work can serve as a useful guide for implementing primary PV reference cell calibrations using the outdoor method, as well as outlining the critical elements required to make these calibrations highly accurate.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number2300379
Number of pages11
JournalSolar RRL
Issue number19
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Wiley-VCH GmbH.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5900-86390


  • absolute cavity radiometer
  • measurement uncertainty
  • primary reference cell calibration
  • PV modules
  • solar cells
  • spectroradiometer


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