The Water Loss and Solar Panel Operating Condition Effects of Using Solar Photovoltaic Panels to Shade a Body of Water
Ensuring that people across the globe have enough water and electricity are two large issues that continue to grow. This study performs a test on whether using solar photovoltaic modules to shade water can potentially help diminish the issues of water and power. Using the setup of a PV module shading water, a stand-alone PV module, and unshaded water, it was found that shading water can reduce evaporation and lower PV module operating temperature at the same time. Using averaged data from two days of testing, the volume per unit surface area of water that evaporated per hour was 0.319 cm3/cm2 less for the shaded water compared to the unshaded water. The evaporation rates found in the experiment are compared to those of Lake Mead to see the amount of water lost on a large scale. For the operating temperature of the PV module, the module used for shading had a consistently lower temperature than the stand-alone module. On the first day, the shading module had an average temperature 5.1 C lower than the stand-alone module average temperature. On day two, the shading module had an average temperature 3.4 C lower than the stand-alone module average temperature. Using average temperatures between the two days from 10:30am and 4:45pm, the average daily temperature of the panel used for shading was 4.5C less than the temperature of the stand-alone panel. These results prove water shading by solar PV modules to be effective in reducing evaporation and lowering module operating temperature. Last, suggestions for future studies are discussed, such as performance analysis of the PV modules in this setting, economic analysis of using PV modules as shading, and the isolation of the different factors of evaporation (temperature, wind speed, and humidity).