Improvement in PV Plant LCOE from Convection Heat Transfer Changes from Altered Plant Layout

Matthew Prilliman, Sarah Smith, Brooke Stanislawski, Marc Calaf, Raul Cal, Tim Silverman, Janine Keith

Research output: NRELPoster


Heat transfer modeling that accounts for how convective cooling changes with PV array layout has been found to improve system LCOE in certain climates conditions. Analysis of fixed tilt systems performed using the System Advisor Model reveals that reducing system ground coverage ratio from 0.46 to 0.35 can lead to as much as a 1.7% increase in module annual energy output in Phoenix. Depending on climate conditions, these energy increases due to changing convective cooling flow can lead to LCOE improvements for systems with increased row spacing despite the increased wiring and land costs associated with increased module row spacing. While the energy gain from decreasing system ground coverage ratio can be largely attributed to increased plane of array irradiance, the convection cooling considerations presented here can have a non-negligible impact on PV power plant energy output and economic viability depending on climate conditions and array spacing parameters.
Original languageAmerican English
StatePublished - 2022

Publication series

NamePresented at the 49th IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference (PVSC 49), 5-10 June 2022, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PO-7A40-83033


  • heat transfer
  • photovoltaic
  • technoeconomic analysis


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