Viewing Convection as a Solar Farm Phenomenon Broadens Modern Power Predictions for Solar Photovoltaics: Article No. 063502

Sarah Smith, Brooke Stanislawski, Byron Eng, Naseem Ali, Timothy Silverman, Marc Calaf, Raul Cal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus Citations

Abstract

Heat mitigation for large-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) arrays is crucial to extend lifetime and energy harvesting capacity. PV module temperature is dependent on site-specific farm geometry, yet common predictions consider panel-scale and environmental factors only. Here, we characterize convective cooling in diverse PV array designs, capturing combined effects of spatial and atmospheric variation on panel temperature and production. Parameters, including row spacing, panel inclination, module height, and wind velocity, are explored through wind tunnel experiments, high-resolution numerical simulations, and operating field data. A length scale based on fractal lacunarity encapsulates all aspects of arrangement (angle, height, etc.) in a single value. When applied to the Reynolds number Re within the canonical Nusselt number heat transfer correlation, lacunarity reveals a relationship between convection and farm-specific geometry. This correlation can be applied to existing and forthcoming array designs to optimize convective cooling, ultimately increasing production and PV cell life.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy
Volume14
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 2022

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5K00-81817

Keywords

  • convection
  • power
  • solar
  • temperature
  • thermal

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