Technoeconomic Analysis of Changing PV Array Convective Cooling through Changing Array Spacing

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus Citations


Accuracy in photovoltaic (PV) module temperature modeling is crucial to achieving precision in energy performance yield calculations and subsequent economic evaluations of PV projects. While there have been numerous approaches to PV temperature modeling based on both the steady-state and transient thermal assumptions, there have been few attempts to account for changing convective cooling on PV module surfaces resulting from changes in the PV system layout. Changes in system row spacing, in particular, can have a meaningful impact on module electrical efficiency and subsequent economic performance, even when considering additional costs from the changes in row spacing. Using a heat transfer approach based on the spatial definition of a PV array, technoeconomic analyses of different plant configurations are presented here that show an improved system levelized cost of energy (LCOE) for fixed-tilt PV systems when increasing system row spacing. These LCOE improvements have been found to be as high as 2.15% in climates characterized by low ambient temperatures and higher average annual wind speeds in U.S. climates. While the LCOE improvements are primarily driven by incident irradiance changes for altered row spacing, the waterfall analysis of the different components of changing system LCOE show that modifications in the heat transfer dynamics have a 0.5% contribution to the LCOE reduction for the largest LCOE, compared with a 3.3% reduction from irradiance changes.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1586-1592
Number of pages7
JournalIEEE Journal of Photovoltaics
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2011-2012 IEEE.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-7A40-82510


  • Convection
  • heat transfer
  • photovoltaic (PV)
  • technoeconomic analysis (TEA)


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