I've been reading about the theory of solar cells, and doing some circuit simulations using the idealized model of solar cells. But I still feel like I have some problems understanding how the solar cell behaves and would like to check some things.
My understanding is that the current source in the solar cell model produces a variable current that depends primarily on irradiance, ranging from zero amps to the short-circuit current. Depending on the voltage applied to the solar cell, a portion of this current will flow back uselessly through the diode while the rest will flow out of the solar cell into the load. The voltage at which maximum power is extracted from the solar cell is the maximum power point.
So then my question is, if I have a battery, with a proper undervoltage/overvoltage circuit, and I connect it directly to a solar panel (ignoring any blocking diode for now), then the voltage across the battery will dictate the voltage across the solar panel, and some current will flow from the solar cell to the battery as long as the battery voltage is below the panel's VOC. The amount of current flowing in the battery will be given by the solar panel's I-V curve at any given battery voltage.
If I select the solar panel such that its maximum power point is achieved at a voltage near the nominal battery voltage, then the battery will extract reasonable power (near the maximum power point) from the panel, without needing an MPPT controller.
As I understand it the main downside of this approach is that the VOC will drop at low irradiances, moving the panel's maximum power point, such that the battery may charge inefficiently (or not at all if VOC falls too much) in low lighting conditions. The VOC also depends on the cell temperature.
And what an MPPT controller does is to apply a specific voltage across the solar panel to reach the maximum power point, by presenting a varying load to the panel, and then regulates that voltage to whatever voltage the battery needs, so that the solar panel can work efficiently across more lighting conditions and more diverse battery chemistries.
Is my understanding correct?