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Optimizing Solar Arrays

Energy Manage solarTwo groups working in the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DoE) Sunshot Initiative — SUNY Polytechnic and the U.S. Photovoltaic Manufacturing Consortium – have launched the Solar Energy Optimization Testkit, according pv tech.

The idea behind the test kit is that granular data is necessary to optimize solar installations. Any array will produce some energy, but in a given instance it is difficult to determine if the installation is performing optimally or providing advantages compared to other strategies.

The PVMC Solar Energy Optimization Testkit generate important data on solar cells, components, modules, systems and operations and maintenance protocols. The kit provides the data necessary to determine whether things are working properly:

The PVMC Testkit can be applied to any currently deployed PV system and allows the PVMC to collect and model data and perform key measurements at the sites to validate predictive models.

The reports received by array owners, the story says, will focus on actual versus predicted performance and will help isolate problems. The goal is to enable participants to avoid the need to run their own test centers.

Solar energy is seen as a bit of a no-brainer by many people. That doesn’t mean, however, that it can be implemented without great care. For instance, mounting panels on parking structures is common. But it can’t be done without thought and preparation.

Warty Design suggests no fewer than 12 things to be careful about when planning a solar array. Care should be taken in not overloading the structure. Seismic and wind modeling should be done with care. The layout of the parking lot and the location of sprinklers must be taken into account. Attention must be paid to fireproofing requirements, height limitations, lighting and aesthetics.

Other concerns: How the PV system is physically, electrically and mechanically attached to the main structure concerns must be considered. Structures that weren’t initially designed with the possibility of solar in mind must be given special consideration. And, finally, any work must be done without disrupting parking operations.

That is a long list for parking structures. It figures to be even longer when the arrays are aimed at commercial and industrial buildings.

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