Assessment of the energy gain of photovoltaic systems by using solar tracking in equatorial regions

[+] Author and Article Information
Freddy Ordóñez

Ladrón de Guevara E11-253 Quito, 00000 Ecuador

Carlos Morales

Ladrón de Guevara E11-253 Quito, 00000 Ecuador

Jesús López-Villada

Ladrón de Guevara E11-253 Quito, 00000 Ecuador

Santiago Vaca

Ladrón de Guevara E11-253 Quito, 00000 Ecuador

1Corresponding author.

ASME doi:10.1115/1.4039095 History: Received September 04, 2017; Revised January 17, 2018


Solar tracking is a major alternative to increase the efficiency of PV systems. Nonetheless, solar-tracking PV systems require more resources and energy than static systems. Additionally, the presence of cloudiness and shadows from near buildings may reduce the profitability of these systems. Therefore, their feasibility must be assessed in order to justify their application. In equatorial latitudes, the sun's movement through the sky is in the zenith East-West axis. It may be advantageous, since the best tilt in such latitudes is the horizontal. In these terms, the main objective of this research is to numerically assesses the performance of a PV array with solar tracking and under typical operation conditions in equatorial latitudes. For this, the assessment of the solar resource in Quito was analyzed in first place. Then, the comparison between three solar arrays were studied to evaluate the feasibility of solar tracking (two-axes tracking, horizontal one-axis tracking and horizontal fixed). Additionally, the impact of cloudiness and shadows in the system was analyzed. The results showed that the horizontal one-axis tracking is the most beneficial option for equatorial latitudes as the two-axes tracking system only surpasses the gains of the one-axis tracking marginally. Furthermore, the use of a strategy to place the PV panels horizontally in cloudy conditions seems to be barely advantageous. Finally, shadows created from neighboring buildings in the East and West of the system may reduce considerably the energy harvested (not the ones in the North and South)

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