Building applied photovoltaic arrays: side-by-side array comparison with and without fan cooling
Building Applied Photovoltaics (BAPV) form an essential part of today's solar economy. This thesis is an effort to compare and understand the effect of fan cooling on the temperature of rooftop photovoltaic (PV) modules by comparing two side-by-side arrays (test array and control array) under identical ambient conditions of irradiance, air temperature, wind speed and wind direction. The lower operating temperature of PV modules due to fan operation mitigates array non uniformity and improves on performance. A crystalline silicon (c-Si) PV module has a light to electrical conversion efficiency of 14-20%. So on a cool sunny day with incident solar irradiance of 1000 W/m2, a PV module with 15% efficiency, will produce about only 150 watts. The rest of the energy is primarily lost in the form of heat. Heat extraction methods for BAPV systems may become increasingly higher in demand as the hot stagnant air underneath the array can be extracted to improve the array efficiency and the extracted low-temperature heat can also be used for residential space heating and water heating. Poly c-Si modules experience a negative temperature coefficient of power at about -0.5% /o C. A typical poly c-Si module would experience power loss due to elevation in temperature, which may be in the range of 25 to 30% for desert conditions such as that of Mesa, Arizona. This thesis investigates the effect of fan cooling on the previously developed thermal models at Arizona State University and on the performance of PV modules/arrays. Ambient conditions are continuously monitored and collected to calculate module temperature using the thermal model and to compare with actually measured temperature of individual modules. Including baseline analysis, the thesis has also looked into the effect of fan on the test array in three stages of 14 continuous days each. Multiple Thermal models are developed in order to identify the effect of fan cooling on performance and temperature uniformity. Although the fan did not prove to have much significant cooling effect on the system, but when combined with wind blocks it helped improve the thermal mismatch both under low and high wind speed conditions.