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Model to assess microclimates in vertical agrivoltaic systems

Swedish researchers are suffering from a model to investigate the microclimate parameters of a vertically mounted agrivoltaic system. They validated their model by comparing its estimations with measurements of solar irradiance, PV module temperature, and ground temperature.

Scientists at Mlardalen University in Sweden are suffering from a computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model that facilitates the analysis of microclimates in vertical PV projects.

Types of agrivoltaic (AV) systems can be commonly used for new AV system designs along with decision-making as possible analyze/predict the microclimatic changes influenced by location and AV system solution, researcher Sebastian Zainalli told pv magazine.

CFD simulations are accustomed to solve complex equations concerning the flow of solids and gases through and around bodies, which may be used to investigate microclimates within agrivoltaic systems. The model was built using Solidworks computer-aided design software.

The researchers viewed a vertical agrivoltaic system with 30 bifacial monocrystalline PV modules having an east-west orientation in Vsters, Sweden. The machine includes three rows with 10 meters between them, where pasture grass is grown.

The scientists gathered data on the ambient temperature, global and diffuse horizontal radiation, and wind with four different sensors. They used a thermal camera to gauge the temperature of the modules.

The CFD model showed PV module temperate estimation errors in the region of 0 C to 2 C, and ground temperature errors in the region of 0 C to at least one 1 C.

The vertical bifacial PV module temperature is hard to measure as you cannot easily put a sensor onto the module since it would create hotspots. Therefore, hourly thermal camera readings have already been used to obtain a precise comparison, Zainali explained. The models estimation errors tend to be more accurate compared to the measured vertical bifacial PV module temperature obtained with monofacial reference cells on the trunk and front sides because of differences in characteristics when compared to bifacial module.

In addition they considered soil temperature to validate the CFD model. They claim the model correctly predicts that soil temperature slowly increases throughout the day.

The CFD model had a temperature error of significantly less than 1 C also it could possibly be seen that the upsurge in temperature is incredibly much like measured data throughout the day, said Zainali.

The outcomes also show that the incident solar irradiance estimates from the CFD model act like those measured in Vsters, however the model generally underestimates the peak solar irradiance in cloudy climate. The academic also observed a 38% reduction in solar radiation intensity in the bottom areas shaded by the vertical PV modules.

From these validations, we are able to note that our developed model has similar microclimatic variation as measurements, Zainali said, noting that the model could be adapted to review other agrivoltaic systems designs and geographical locations. He noted that it’s possible to investigate installations with fixed structures and trackers, even though latter adds more complexity to the modeling and for that reason requires additional time to be studied.

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