Three-dimensional panel configurations to reduce wind load and increase passive convection cooling of photovoltaic surface on solar tracking systems

R. Edgar, S. Cochard, Z. Stachurski
Australian National University, AU

Keywords: photovoltaic power, renewable energy, high efficiency


For photovoltaic power systems there is a new class of three-dimensional panel arrangements better adapted to strong wind conditions than contiguous plates of equivalent frontal. These arrangements are unique in having overlapping layers of non-overlapping panels. A solar tracking mechanism and openings the size of lower panels in the upper layer(s) prevents intra-system shading. Figures 1 and 2 show the concept. Computational fluid dynamic analysis using SST k-omega reynolds averaged navier stokes model equations have shown the wind induced force on solar tracking systems can be reduced by 20% and 30% in drag and lift respectively when using the new class of three-dimensional panel arrangements. As such tracking mechanisms have the potential to carry 20% more active surface on 30% lighter foundations with no significant change to recurrent costs and considerable economic gain. Wind tunnel tests of real scale models have been carried out and validate the reported analysis findings associated with the referenced class of three-dimensional panel arrangements.