Solar Energy. Discover the power of solar energy and design a complete photovoltaic system. [5071]

The course Solar Energy will teach you to design a complete photovoltaic system. The course will introduce you to the technology that converts solar energy into electricity, heat and solar fuels with a main focus on electricity generation.  Photovoltaic (PV) devices are presented as advanced semiconductor devices that deliver electricity directly from sunlight. The emphasis is on understanding the working principle of a solar cell, fabrication of solar cells, PV module construction and the design of a PV system. You will understand the principles of the photovoltaic conversion (the conversion of light into electricity). You will learn about the advantages, limitations and challenges of different solar cell technologies, such as crystalline silicon solar cell technology, thin film solar cell technologies and the latest novel solar cell concepts as studied on lab-scale.  The course will treat the specifications of solar modules and show you how to design a complete solar system for any particular application. The suitable semiconductor materials, device physics, and fabrication technologies for solar cells are presented. The guidelines for design of a complete solar cell system for household application are explained. Alternative storage approaches through solar fuels or conversion of solar energy in to heat will be discussed.  The cost aspects, market development, and the application areas of solar cells are presented.

After completion of the course, you will be able to:

a) explain the various concepts to convert solar energy in to electricity, heat and solar fuels 

b) explain the physical working principles of photovoltaic conversion in solar cells

c) recognize and describe the various solar cell technologies, their current status and future technological challenges

d) analyze the performance of solar cells and modules

e) design a complete photovoltaic system for any particular application on paper

To celebrate this first MOOC on Solar Energy the best student of the course will be invited to the Delft University of Technology for a Delft Solar Energy Center course of one week, to get hands-on lab experience with all the concepts taught in this Solar Energy course.

Education method

The class will consist of a collection of lecture videos, each between eight and twelve minutes in length. The course contains exercises and assignments, which are additional to the video lectures.  The best student of the course will be invited to the Delft University of Technology for a Photovoltaics Lab course of one week, to get hands-on lab experience with all the concepts taught in this Solar Energy course.

How can you take this edX Course?


Arno Smets
Arno Smets

Since March 2010 Dr. Arno H.M. Smets is Assistant Professor at the faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science at the Delft University of Technology (TUD) in the Netherlands in the Photovoltaics Material and Devices group. He received his PhD in Physics from the Eindhoven University of Technology. From 2005-2010 he worked at the Research Center for Photovoltaics at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) in Tsukuba Japan. His research work is focused on processing of thin silicon films, innovative materials and new concepts for photovoltaic applications. At Delft University he is lecturer of the new BSc-courses like “Sustainable Energy”, “Solar Cells”, and MSc-courses like “PV Technology” and “PV lab Course”.


What is the estimated effort for course?

About 8 hrs/week.

How much does it cost to take the course?

Nothing! The course is free.

Will the text of the lectures be available?

Yes. All of our lectures will have transcripts synced to the videos.

Do I need to watch the lectures live?

No. You can watch the lectures at your leisure.

Will certificates be awarded?

Yes. Online learners who achieve a passing grade in a course can earn a certificate of mastery. These certificates will indicate you have successfully completed the course, but will not include a specific grade. Certificates will be issued by edX under the name of DelftX, designating the institution from which the course originated.

Can I contact the Instructor or Teaching Assistants?

Yes, but not directly. The discussion forums are the appropriate venue for questions about the course. The instructors will monitor the discussion forums and try to respond to the most important questions; in many cases response from other students and peers will be adequate and faster.

Is this course related to a campus course of Delft University of Technology?

Yes. This course corresponds to the campus course ET3034TU – Solar Cells, an elective course of the Faculty faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science.


The course is accessible for a broad range of students doing a BSc program.
Some basic knowledge in physics is advantageous and mathematical skills as integration and differentiation are assumed to be known.


This course is licensed under a Creative Commons license CC-BY-NC-SA

Course code:
Classes start:
16 Sep 2013
Course length:
8 weeks
Estimated effort:
8 hours/week

The course is accessible for a broad range of students doing a BSc program.
Some basic knowledge in physics is advantageous and mathematical skills as integration and differentiation are assumed to be known.


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