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Photovoltaic Systems: System Design Tools

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Prepared for the Welsh Energy Sector Training program, this presentation takes a whistlestop tour through some of the different tools used in PV system design. From tools that are used to collect data about the site - angles, overshadowing e.t.c. to software tools used to simulate PV systems designs.

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Photovoltaic Systems: System Design Tools

  1. 1. PV Systems Design Tools of the Trade Gavin D. J. Harper
  2. 2. Site Visit • The Site Visit is an opportunity to collect key information to inform a PV system design. • Information to be collected on: – Customer Wishes – Usable Roof, Façade and Open Spaces – Overshading – Orientation / Angles of Slope – Location for Balance of System Component – Details of Electrical Installation – Access considerations
  3. 3. Survey Tools Inclinometer • Used to determine angles of roof lines / IMAGE: WWW.SUUNTO.COM SUUNTO TANDEM 360PC/360R DG slopes • Can be as accurate as digital when used correctly.  Requires no batteries  Cheap and simple
  4. 4. Survey Tools Inclinometer • Very simple to use, held against soffit e.t.c. • Requires physical access to the roofline. • Health & Safety Considerations with Access • May be cost considerations to safe access.  Requires batteries (Risk of them being flat!)  More expensive  Very Simple To Use IMAGE: WWW.SUUNTO.COM SUUNTO MC-2/G/6400
  5. 5. Survey Tools Inclinometer App • Very simple to use, held against soffit e.t.c. • Requires physical access to the roofline. • Don’t drop your phone!!!  Requires charge phone (Risk of them being flat!)  More expensive  Very Simple To Use  Ubiquitous Smartphones  Free / Cheap (If you have phone!)  One less tool to carry HTTPS://PLAY.GOOGLE.COM/STORE/APPS/DETAILS?ID=COM.ANDROID.INCLINOMETERPRO
  6. 6. Survey Tools Inclinometer App • HOWEVER: Word of warning! • Relies on the accuracy of phones internal compasses and sensors. • These may not be calibrated to the same degree of precision as dedicated devices. • There may be some margin of error. • Check against another device to ensure both agree. HTTPS://PLAY.GOOGLE.COM/STORE/APPS/DETAILS?ID=COM.ANDROID.INCLINOMETERPRO
  7. 7. Shading Analysis • Old SAP Calculation gave “Shading Factor”. – Very subjective – Open to interpretation – Insufficient consideration given to near shading. – 20% shade will still affect system; yet ignored in the SAP method. • Shonky installations resulted from the old method, but due to subjectivity it was hard to argue in favour of customer due to >20% factor. – Hence… more sophisticated shading analysis required.
  8. 8. Shading Analysis • In order to conduct a shading analysis, we need to be able to capture the angular height of obstacles and also their bearing. • We can do this manually, or in a more sophisticated way with expensive equipment.
  9. 9. Shading Analysis • When selecting tools we need to consider: – Quality of data • Junk in, junk out: The better our model, the closer fit to real world performance. • “Good enough” data, ‘cheap’ equipment can yield serviceable results. – Speed of capture • If we are doing lots of installations, then we want to be able to use tools that allow us to work effectively. – Workflow process • Some automatic tools allow for automatic transfer of data into modelling tools.
  10. 10. SURVEY TOOLS There are a number of different tools which can be used to help in the collection of on site survey data.
  11. 11. Survey Tools Sighting Mirror Compass • Used to determine bearing and measure gradients and altitudes. • These are vital considerations when calculating azimuths, shading and slopes.  Requires no batteries  Cheap and simple IMAGE: WWW.SUUNTO.COM SUUNTO MC-2/G/6400
  12. 12. Survey Tools Quick & Dirty Elevation Tool • Laminated Sheet of Card • String • Small Weight  Requires no batteries  Cheap and simple  You will feel like a wally  You will envy the cool kids with shinier toys. HTTP://WWW.MICROGENERATIONCERTIFICATION.ORG/IMAGES/MCS%20SHADING%202%20FINAL.PDF
  13. 13. Survey Tools MCS installers have to record information about shading and obstructions even if it appears that there are none. Arms length site surveys are banned in the 3rd Edition MCS guidance. Chris Laughton has a his *VERY* interesting blog post on this topic. http://chrislaughton.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/image-3.jpg Chris runs: http://www.solardesign.co.uk/
  14. 14. Survey Tools Printable Sun Path Acetates HTTP://WWW.SOLARDESIGN.CO.UK/MCS-DOWNLOAD.PHP
  15. 15. Survey Tools Printable Sun Path Acetates • Use with a “Solar Site Selector” tool. • Tool holds acetate, and contains a Fisheye Lens and a Compass • Different acetates for different latitudes available. • Looking through lens, outlines of obstructions are drawn onto the diagram using an OHP Transparency erasable marker. HTTP://WWW.SOLARDESIGN.CO.UK/MCS-DOWNLOAD.PHP
  16. 16. Survey Tools Solar Site Selector Tool • The following pictures show an acetate type solar site selector tool as sold by Solar Design Company. HTTP://WWW.SOLARDESIGN.CO.UK/MCS-DOWNLOAD.PHP
  17. 17. Survey Tools Reflective Solar Dome Tool HTTP://WWW.SOLARPATHFINDER.COM/PF
  18. 18. Survey Tools Reflective Solar Dome Tool • Highly polished transparent convex dome. • Dome reflects surrounding landscape, but also allows sun path diagram to be see transposed against reflections. • Different sun path diagrams for different latitudes. • Simple tool, no batteries to replace e.t.c. • BUT- need a camera to record the data! HTTP://WWW.SOLARPATHFINDER.COM/PF
  19. 19. Survey Tools PanoramaMaster PanoramaMaster assists in the capture of aligned images that can be used in order to calculate shading from a location. The PanoramaMaster bracket mounts onto a camera tripod. The camera then mounts to the PanoramaMaster Bracket. IMAGE © CHRIS LAUGHTON of the Solar Design Company HTTP://WWW.SOLARDESIGN.CO.UK/PANORAMAMASTER.PHP
  20. 20. Survey Tools PanoramaMaster • The images that are captured can then be processed and ‘stitched together’ using the software. • This data can then be imported into software in order to generate a skyline that can be used for simulating solar shading in a simulation package. • A sunpath and horizon can then be overlaid onto the image. IMAGE © CHRIS LAUGHTON of the Solar Design Company HTTP://WWW.SOLARDESIGN.CO.UK/PANORAMAMASTER.PHP
  21. 21. Survey Tools Solmetric Suneye Tool for making calibrated measurements of solar shading. Incorporates: • Calibrated fisheye camera • Electronic compass • Tilt sensor • Optional GPS HTTP://WWW.SOLARDESIGN.CO.UK/MCS-DOWNLOAD.PHP
  22. 22. Survey Tools Solmetric Suneye HTTP://WWW.SOLARDESIGN.CO.UK/MCS-DOWNLOAD.PHP
  23. 23. Survey Tools Solmetric Suneye HTTP://WWW.SOLMETRIC.COM/BUY210.HTML
  24. 24. Survey Tools Solmetric iSV App • Augmented reality • Combines camera with sun path diagram • Uses phone’s sensors to add position information • $4.99 app vs 000’s for specialised sun path device. HTTP://WWW.SOLMETRIC.COM/SOLMETRIC-ISV-IPHONE-APP.HTML
  25. 25. Survey Tools http://www.microgenerationcertification.org/images/MCS%20Shading%202%20FINAL.pdf
  26. 26. SOFTWARE DESIGN TOOLS
  27. 27. Design Tools • There are a great many different software design tools for Photovoltaic Systems on the market. • These range in complexity and cost from free to very expensive. • It is impossible to provide an exhaustive list, nor to give a complete overview of their functionality within the scope of this presentation. • The following exposition is indicative of some of the software available and the range of functionality that can be achieved.
  28. 28. Design Tools PVGIS HTTP://RE.JRC.EC.EUROPA.EU/PVGIS/ • Online free solar photovoltaic energy calculator for stand alone or grid connected PV systems and plants, in Europe and Africa. • Solar electricity generator simulation and solar radiations maps • Free Online Tool
  29. 29. Design Tools PVGIS HTTP://RE.JRC.EC.EUROPA.EU/PVGIS/ • Underestimates the efficiency of modern solar panels. • Overestimates (default settings) the power losses that we would expect from a well designed solar PV array. • Otherwise a very good tool and free.
  30. 30. Design Tools PV*SOL • PV*SOL software is used for the design an simulation of PV installations. • There are two variations: PC*SOL & PV*SOL Premium • PV*SOL works in two dimensions, whereas PV*SOL Premium has added functionality to allow work in three dimensions. HTTP://WWW.SOLMETRIC.COM/SOLMETRIC-ISV-IPHONE-APP.HTML
  31. 31. Design Tools PV*SOL
  32. 32. Design Tools PV*SOL
  33. 33. Design Tools PV*SOL Premium • PV*SOL software is used for the design an simulation of PV installations. • There are two variations: PC*SOL & PV*SOL Premium • PV*SOL works in two dimensions, whereas PV*SOL Premium has added functionality to allow work in three dimensions. HTTP://WWW.SOLARDESIGN.CO.UK/PVSOL-PREMIUM.PHP
  34. 34. Design Tools PV*SOL Photoplan • PV*SOL Photoplan is used to to generate photorealistic rendered diagrams of potential solar installations. • This can be used to help customers gauge the aesthetic impact of a PV installation and may be helpful in the process of planning applications in certain situations. • Listed Buildings • Conservation Areas • Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty HTTP://WWW.VALENTIN-SOFTWARE.COM/EN/PRODUCTS/PHOTOVOLTAICS/57/PVSOL-PREMIUM
  35. 35. Design Tools Helios 3D • Software specifically designed for planning utility scale ground mounted PV arrays. • Will take data into account about the terrain of the installation from GIS data. • The core functionality of HELIOS 3D is, to place the racks without shadows casted on them on any suitable terrain. HTTP://WWW.HELIOS3D.COM/
  36. 36. LIDAR Data Collection Source: http://www.beg.utexas.edu/coastal/poster/ graphics/Terrain-mapping-plane.gif http://www.phoenix-aerial.com/
  37. 37. Orientation Analysis Helios 3D analyses terrain data for orientation, noting whether the slopes face North, South, East or West. Orientation analysis is important for optimal site selection.
  38. 38. Design Tools Helios 3D HTTP://WWW.HELIOS3D.COM/
  39. 39. Design Tools Helios 3D HTTP://WWW.HELIOS3D.COM/ The longest shadow cast in a row is calculated. The distance between rows is then set to this measurement to prevent overshadowing.
  40. 40. Design Tools Helios 3D HTTP://WWW.HELIOS3D.COM/ • The software will also make suggestions about how earthworks and regarding of the terrain may assist in optimisation and improving the performance of the system. • The software considers the optimal geometry for the rows of PV devices in order to extract the most energy from a given space.
  41. 41. Design Tools Helios 3D HTTP://WWW.HELIOS3D.COM/ • The software will take into account access requirements for installation and maintenance. • Access roads are optimally positioned There are factors that are specific to the design of ground mounted PV: • Soil conditions • Piling depth
  42. 42. Design Tools Helios 3D HTTP://WWW.HELIOS3D.COM/ • The software allows modelling of obstructions and objects which will cast shadows on the installation. Access road positioning optimised to make use of overshadowed space as a result of tree providing overshadowing.
  43. 43. Other Tools • Energy Savings Trust >4kW PV Estimator http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/Generating-energy/Getting-money-back/Solar-Energy-Calculator
  44. 44. Other Tools • Energy Savings Trust >4kW PV Estimator – Limited to solar PV systems under 4kWp – Limited design choices – Overestimates system losses – Doesn't factor RPI FIT payment increases – Doesn’t factor predicted increases in electricity prices. – BUT very easy to use and easy to understand – Comprehensive solar PV Return on Investment (ROI) tool http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/Generating-energy/Getting-money-back/Solar-Energy-Calculator
  45. 45. PV Software • For a more exhaustive list of PV Software tools, look at: • http://photovoltaic-software.com/free.php • http://photovoltaic-software.com/professional.php

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