Technical Brief

An Experimental Performance Evaluation of a Cold-Region Photovoltaic System With Tracking

[+] Author and Article Information
Wongyu Choi, Michael B. Pate

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Texas A&M University,
College Station, TX 77843

Ryan D. Warren

Iowa State University,
Ames, IA 50014

Ron M. Nelson

Iowa State University,
Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Ames, IA 50014
e-mail: ronn@iastate.edu

Contributed by the Solar Energy Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF SOLAR ENERGY ENGINEERING: INCLUDING WIND ENERGY AND BUILDING ENERGY CONSERVATION. Manuscript received June 5, 2016; final manuscript received December 20, 2016; published online March 21, 2017. Assoc. Editor: Geoffrey T. Klise.

J. Sol. Energy Eng 139(3), 034501 (Mar 21, 2017) (10 pages) Paper No: SOL-16-1258; doi: 10.1115/1.4035755 History: Received June 05, 2016; Revised December 20, 2016

A grid-connected dual-axis tracking photovoltaic (PV) system was installed in the Upper Midwest of the U.S., defined as a cold region, and then evaluated and monitored for a 1 year period. This system serves as a real-world application of PV for electricity generation in a region long overlooked for PV research studies. Additionally, the system provides an opportunity for research, demonstration, and education of dual-axis tracking PV, again not commonly studied in cold regions. In this regard, experimental data for the system were collected and analyzed over a 1year period. During the year of operation, the PV system collected a total of 2173 kWh/m2, which equates to 5.95 kWh/m2 on average per day, of solar insolation and generated a total of 1815 kWh, which equates to an energy to rated power ratio of 1779 kWh/kWp of usable AC electrical energy. The system operated at an annual average conversion efficiency and performance ratio of 11% and 0.82%, respectively, while the annual-average conversion efficiency of the inverter was 92%. The tracking system performance is also compared to a stationary PV system, which is located in close proximity to the tracking PV system. The tracking system's conversion efficiency was 0.3% higher than the stationary system while the energy generation per capacity was 40% higher although the PV module conversion efficiencies were not significantly different for the two systems.

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Fig. 1

Photograph of tracking PV system

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Fig. 2

One-line diagram of data acquisition system

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Fig. 3

Monthly average daily solar insolation

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Fig. 4

I-V curves for various levels of solar irradiance

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Fig. 5

Power production versus solar irradiance

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Fig. 6

Monthly energy generation

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Fig. 7

System efficiency (conversion of solar energy to AC electrical energy) versus solar irradiance

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Fig. 8

Daily performance ratios

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Fig. 9

Stationary and tracking monthly average daily AC and DC generated energy per kWp of installed PV at STC

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Fig. 10

Stationary and tracking frequency distribution of power production

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Fig. 11

Monthly and annual average system conversion efficiencies




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