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East-west vertical photovoltaic system with stabilizing effect

East-west vertical photovoltaic system with stabilizing effect


German researchers have studied how vertical photovoltaic systems can provide more power during periods of higher demand while achieving higher levels of integration with agricultural activities.

A vertical agricultural photovoltaic pilot project in Sweden
A vertical agricultural photovoltaic pilot project in Sweden

Scientists at the University of Applied Sciences in Leipzig studied the potential impact of large-scale deployment of west-east oriented vertical photovoltaic systems in the German energy market. They found that such installations could have a beneficial impact in stabilizing the national grid while allowing for greater integration with agricultural activities than conventional ground-based PV plants.

The researchers used the EnergyPLAN model, developed by Aalborg University in Denmark, which is commonly used to simulate the hour-by-hour operation of national energy systems including the electricity, heating, cooling, industrial and transportation sectors. The study helps predict what the German energy system would look like by 2030 if more vertical PV systems were deployed.

"We systematically changed only two parameters: first, the share of installed power for different PV models," the scholars said, noting that solar trackers were not considered. "Second, two scenarios were considered - integrated or not integrated with large-scale energy storage."

For a conventional ground-mounted system, the scientists considered an estimated power generation using a 20-degree tilt angle and an average of 1020 Wh/W. For a west-east facing bifacial vertical system, they assumed a bifaciality factor of 90 percent and an annual generation of 999Wh/W, while for a north-south facing vertical system, the annual generation was set at 926Wh/W.

In our model, electricity demand increases to 1,214 TWh/a in 2030, based largely on assumptions about energy efficiency and fuel transition," they said. The biggest uncertainty is the heating of buildings and industry."

They also took into account the higher cost of double-sided panels and the fact that the installable power per unit area for vertical installations is reduced by shading effects, as module rows are typically spaced between 8 and 12 meters apart, which in turn increases wiring costs.

They said, "The additional cost of the land itself must be apportioned to the benefits of preserving agricultural land use or due to the promotion of biodiversity."

The scientists found that vertical PV systems can shift solar production to times of higher electricity demand, with more power available in winter, thus reducing solar curtailment.

They say, "If 1 TW charge/discharge power and 1 TWh capacity of electricity storage are included in the energy system model, the effect is reduced to CO2 savings of 210 Mt/a with 70% vertical east-west and 30% tilted south components. finally, while achieving a 70% vertical plant ratio may not be realistic, even lower ratios can have a beneficial impact."

They set out their conclusions in "Integrating Vertical Solar Power Plants into Germany's Future Energy System," published in the journal Smart Energy. They conclude, "The intention of this paper is in no way to suggest that all future utility PV systems be installed vertically. Rather, it presents a new opportunity to support the entire energy system with vertical PV systems."


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