Computational Methods to Characterize Panel Loading Conditions for Accelerated Testing

Research output: NRELPresentation


Panel cracking and degradation due to wind loading are known to have a detrimental effect on power output. Recreating these damaging conditions in a controlled experimental setting requires an understanding of the loads being generated at the panel surface as a function of both wind speed, wind direction, and panel orientation. To better understand these relationships, a computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulation package was constructed using an open-source Python library for solving partial differential equations with the finite element method. This CFD package allows the simulated wind speed and panel orientation of a multi-panel array to be easily changed and provides the capability to measure the traction forces at discrete points along the sun-facing and ground-facing surface of an interior panel residing in the wake of one or more upstream panels. A parameter exploration was performed in which the panel angle was varied in even increments from -70 deg to 70 deg and the wind speed was varied from 2 to 30 m/s. During post processing, the measured traction along the panel surface was averaged spatially and interpreted as a time-varying signal, where further processing of this signal yielded the root mean square amplitude and a characteristic frequency associated with the loading. This study found that higher wind speeds are generally associated with increased amplitude of loading and that the panel orientation angle can significantly exacerbate or mitigate this loading. These outcomes are presented along with current work on higher-fidelity verification simulations and recommendations for performing accelerated experimental testing.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages6
StatePublished - 2021

Publication series

NamePresented at the Photovoltaic Reliability Workshop (PVRW), 22-26 February 2021

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PR-2C00-80912


  • loading
  • panel
  • PV
  • simulation
  • wind


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