Research Papers

Dual-Axis Solar Tracker Design Based on a Digital Hemispherical Imager

[+] Author and Article Information
Zakaria El Jaouhari, Youssef Zaz, Salah Moughyt, Omar El Kadmiri, Zakaria El Kadmiri

Computer Science and Systems
Engineering Laboratory,
Faculty of Sciences,
Abdelmalek Essaadi University,
Tetuan 93002, Morocco

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 28, 2017; final manuscript received January 17, 2018; published online August 13, 2018. Assoc. Editor: Geoffrey T. Klise.

J. Sol. Energy Eng 141(1), 011001 (Aug 14, 2018) (8 pages) Paper No: SOL-17-1251; doi: 10.1115/1.4039098 History: Received June 28, 2017; Revised January 17, 2018

A design of a solar tracker with a new tracking method based on computer vision techniques is presented in this paper. The proposed method extracts the sun position (orientation θ, elevation φ) in real time from hemispherical sky images using a processing techniques and then drives a pair of motors to move solar panels (or heliostats) toward the sun. To ensure a wide field of view, a camera equipped with a fisheye lens is used to acquire whole sky images. The advantages of such a system are the high sensitivity to brightness compared to traditional photosensors-based trackers. Thus, the system becomes more efficient and able to determine the sun position even during cloudy days. It also operates independently of time and position which makes it reliable in case of mobile solar stations, contrary to systems based on astronomical equations.

Copyright © 2019 by ASME
Your Session has timed out. Please sign back in to continue.


Tudorache, T. , and Kreindler, L. , 2010, “ Design of a Solar Tracker System for PV Power Plants,” Acta Polytech. Hung., 7(1), pp. 23–39. http://www.uni-obuda.hu/journal/Tudorache_Kreindler_22.pdf
Duerr, F. , Meuret, Y. , and Thienpont, H. , 2011, “ Tracking Integration in Concentrating Photovoltaics Using Laterally Moving Optics,” Opt. Express, 19(S3), pp. A207–A218. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Mohammed, N. , and Karim, T. , 2012, “ Design and Implementation of Hybrid Automatic Solar-Tracking System,” ASME J. Sol. Energy Eng., 135(1), p. 011013. [CrossRef]
Zlatanov, H. , and Weinrebe, G. , 2014, “ CSP and PV Solar Tracker Optimization Tool,” Energy Procedia, 49, pp. 1603–1611. [CrossRef]
Chang, T. P. , 2009, “ Output Energy of a Photovoltaic Module Mounted on a Single-Axis Tracking System,” Appl. Energy, 86(10), pp. 2071–2078. [CrossRef]
Chong, K. K. , Wong, C. W. , Siaw, F. L. , Yew, T. K. , Ng, S. S. , Liang, M. S. , Lim, Y. S. , and Lau, S. L. , 2009, “ Integration of an On-Axis General Sun-Tracking Formula in the Algorithm of an Open-Loop Sun-Tracking System,” Sensors, 9(10), pp. 7849–7865. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Kelly, N. A. , and Gibson, T. L. , 2009, “ Improved Photovoltaic Energy Output for Cloudy Conditions With a Solar Tracking System,” Sol. Energy, 83(11), pp. 2092–2102. [CrossRef]
Moreno, J. A. G. , 2012, “ Single Axis Solar Tracker,” U.S. Patent No. 8,242,424B2. https://patents.google.com/patent/US8242424
Ponniran, A. , Hashim, A. , and Joret, A. , 2011, “ A Design of Low Power Single Axis Solar Tracking System Regardless of Motor Speed,” Int. J. Integr. Eng., 3(2), pp. 5–9. http://penerbit.uthm.edu.my/ojs/index.php/ijie/article/view/367/273
Alexandru, C. , and Pozna, C. , 2010, “ Simulation of a Dual-Axis Solar Tracker for Improving the Performance of a Photovoltaic Panel,” Proc. Inst. Mech. Eng., Part A, 224(6), pp. 797–811. [CrossRef]
Saldaña, J. P. C. , 2012, “ Dual-Axis Solar Tracker,” Cabanillas Ingenieros SL U.S. Patent No. 8,237,098B2. https://patents.google.com/patent/US8237098B2/es
Elmaged, A. , and Kamal, H. , 2015, “ Passive Solar Tracking System,” Doctoral dissertation, UOFK, Khartoum, Sudan.
Leon, N. , Ramirez, C. , and Garcia, H. , 2014, “ Rotating Prism Array for Solar Tracking,” Energy Procedia, 57, pp. 265–274. [CrossRef]
Dondon, P. , and Miron, E. L. , 2015, “ Effect of Light Dependant Resistor Mismatching and Impact of Non Linearity in a Small Scale Solar Tracking System,” INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE of SCIENTIFIC PAPER AFASES 2015, Brasov, Romania, May 28–30.
Yao, Y. , Hu, Y. , Gao, S. , Yang, G. , and Du, J. , 2014, “ A Multipurpose Dual-Axis Solar Tracker With Two Tracking Strategies,” Renewable Energy, 72, pp. 88–98. [CrossRef]
Clifford, M. J. , and Eastwood, D. , 2004, “ Design of a Novel Passive Solar Tracker,” Sol. Energy, 77(3), pp. 269–280. [CrossRef]
Poulek, V. , 1994, “ Testing the New Solar Tracker With Shape Memory Alloy Actors,” IEEE 1st World Conference on Photovoltaic Energy Conversion - WCPEC (A Joint Conference of PVSC, PVSEC and PSEC), Waikoloa, HI, Dec. 5–9, pp. 1131–1133.
Barker, L. , Neber, M. , and Lee, H. , 2013, “ Design of a Low-Profile Two-Axis Solar Tracker,” Sol. Energy, 97, pp. 569–576. [CrossRef]
Prodhan, M. M. H. , Hamid, M. K. , Hussain, D. , and Huq, M. F. , 2016, “ Design, Construction and Performance Evaluation of an Automatic Solar Tracker,” J. Sci. Res., 8(1), pp. 1–12. [CrossRef]
Abdallah, S. , and Nijmeh, S. , 2004, “ Two Axes Sun Tracking System With PLC Control,” Energy Convers. Manage., 45(11–12), pp. 1931–1939. [CrossRef]
Arbab, H. , Jazi, B. , and Rezagholizadeh, M. , 2009, “ A Computer Tracking System of Solar Dish With Two-Axis Degree Freedoms Based on Picture Processing of Bar Shadow,” Renewable Energy, 34(4), pp. 1114–1118. [CrossRef]
Wood-Bradley, P. , Zapata, J. , and Pye, J. , 2012, “ Cloud Tracking With Optical Flow for Short-Term Solar Forecasting,” 50th Annual AuSES Conference (Solar 2012), Swinburne University of Technology, Australia, Dec. 6–7. http://hdl.handle.net/1885/28800
Jayadevan, V. T. , Rodriguez, J. J. , Lonij, V. P. A. , and Cronin, A. D. , 2012, “ Forecasting Solar Power Intermittency Using Ground-Based Cloud Imaging,” American Solar Energy Society Meeting, Denver, CO, May 13–17, pp. 2100–2106.
El Kadmiri, Z. , El Kadmiri, O. , and Masmoudi, L. , 2015, “ A Novel Solar Tracker Based on Omnidirectional Computer Vision,” J. Sol. Energy, 2015, p. 149852. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/jse/2015/149852/
Evans, G. C. , and Coombe, D. E. , 1959, “Hemispherical and Woodland Canopy Photography and the Light Climate,” J. Ecol., 47(1), pp. 103–113. [CrossRef]
Wagner, S. , 1998, “ Calibration of Grey Values of Hemispherical Photographs for Image Analysis,” Agric. Meteorol., 90(1–2), pp. 103–117. [CrossRef]
Kannala, J. , and Brandt, S. S. , 2006, “ A Generic Camera Model and Calibration Method for Conventional, Wide-Angle, and Fish-Eye Lenses,” IEEE Trans. Pattern Anal. Mach. Intell., 28(8), pp. 1335–1340. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Smith, A. R. , 1978, “ Color Gamut Transform Pairs,” ACM SIGGRAPH Comput. Graphics, 12(3), pp. 12–19. [CrossRef]
Suzuki, S. , and Abe, K. , 1985, “ Topological Structural Analysis of Digitized Binary Images by Border Following,” Comput. Vision, Graphics, Image Process., 30(1), pp. 32–46. [CrossRef]
Miyamoto, K. , 1964, “ Fish Eye Lens,” JOSA, 54(8), pp. 1060–1061. [CrossRef]


Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 1

(a) Field of view of standard camera and (b) fisheye field of view

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 2

Flowchart of the tracking strategy

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 3

Perspective projection compared to the equidistant projection

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 4

(a) Image captured by a catadioptric system vision, which combines a perspective camera and a spherical mirror and (b) image captured by a fisheye camera

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 5

D is a region in plane, and C is its positively oriented boundary

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 6

Example of the extraction of the largest contour by comparison of each area object from the binary image

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 7

(a) Illustration of sun localization in 3D and (b) illustration of sun position using a fish-eye camera

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 8

Schematization of the sun tracking process

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 9

Fisheye lenses mounted on a perspective camera

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 10

Control unit composed of the central processing unit, a microcontroller and the command circuit. This unit is responsible for processing the information and giving the order to the motors to reach the optimum position.

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 11

Dual axis mechanism

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 12

Illustration of sun tracking system showing the major steps of the proposed solution

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 13

Comparison of the sun path using both DD Michalsky method and the proposed method

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 14

Measuring circuit

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 15

The experimental setup of power gain assessment

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 16

The comparison between the power produced by a fixed PV panel and a PV mounted on the proposed dual-axis solar tracker

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 17

Tracking system for multiple heliostats



Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.

Related Content

Customize your page view by dragging and repositioning the boxes below.

Related Journal Articles
Related eBook Content
Topic Collections

Sorry! You do not have access to this content. For assistance or to subscribe, please contact us:

  • TELEPHONE: 1-800-843-2763 (Toll-free in the USA)
  • EMAIL: asmedigitalcollection@asme.org
Sign In