Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Optimal planning of solar power plants

Date:
May 10, 2012
Source:
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft
Summary:
The photovoltaics industry is booming, and the market for solar farms is growing quickly all over the world. Yet, the task of planning PV power plants to make them as effi cient as possible is far from trivial. Researchers have now developed software that simplifies conceptual design.

In the future, large PV plants such as the Siemens solar farm that went into operation in 2011 in Le Mιes, France, can be planned quickly and efficiently using the PVplanet software solution.
Credit: © Siemens AG

The photovoltaics industry is booming, and the market for solar farms is growing quickly all over the world. Yet, the task of planning PV power plants to make them as efficient as possible is far from trivial. Fraunhofer researchers, working with Siemens Energy Photovoltaics, have developed software that simplifies conceptual design.

Related Articles


The share of renewable energies in the overall energy mix is rising rapidly worldwide. With three-figure growth rates, photovoltaics (PV) play a major role. According to market research organizations, the PV market grew by 139 percent in the year 2010. Germany is among the world's leaders in this technology that uses solar cells to convert sunlight straight into electrical energy. Yet the task of planning large-scale PV power plants spanning several square kilometers is a complex one. With customer specifications, regulations and government subsidy programs to consider, designers must also account for numerous other factors including weather, climate, topography and location. These factors, in turn, influence the selection and placement of the individual components which include the PV arrays with their solar modules, inverters and wiring, not to mention access roads. Until now, engineers have designed solar power plants using CAD programs, with every layout and every variation painstakingly generated separately. This is a very time-consuming approach. To improve a planned power plant in terms of certain criteria, or to compare different concepts with one another, oftentimes the entire planning process has to be repeated.

Several hundred plant designs at the push of a button

In the future, this approach will be improved considerably: researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Mathematics ITWM in Kaiserslautern, in collaboration with Siemens Energy Photovoltaics, have developed a new planning software that makes it possible to build solar power plants better and more quickly. "Our algorithms programmed exclusively for the Siemens PVplanet (PV Plant Engineering Toolbox) software provide engineers with several hundred different plant designs in a single operation. It takes less than a minute of computation time," ITWM researcher Dr. Ingmar Schόle points out. The only user inputs are parameters such as the topography of the construction site and the module and inverter types that will be used. The user can also change a number of parameters - such as the orientation, spacing and inclination of the solar arrays - to study the impact on the quality of the planning result.

Cost estimates and income calculations included

To evaluate the designed PV power plants, an income calculation is performed that includes a simulation of the weather in the region in question, the course of the sun throughout the year and the physical module performance including shading effects. With the results of this computation and an estimate of the investment and operating costs, the planning tool can come up with a figure for the LCOE (levelized cost of energy). By comparing the plant with a large number of similar configurations, the planners can investigate the sensitivity of the various parameters to find the right solution from a large array of options. "The software assists the expert with decisionmaking and helps with the design of the best possible PV power plant for the site involved.

Which one is 'best' depends on a number of aspects - from the customer's objectives to the site and environmental conditions, but also on the financing concept and the financial incentives for photovoltaics in the target region. All of these criteria are taken into account." Schόle points out. Dr. Martin Bischoff, project manager at Siemens AG, Energy Sector, is also convinced of this approach: "Aside savings, more than anything else the planning tool provides an overview of the scope for optimization. This provides the best possible support for planning the most cost-efficient systems. There has been no other planning software with this scope or level of detail until now." Interested individuals can get an impression of the successful teamwork between ITWM and Siemens Energy Photovoltaics at the Intersolar Europe trade fair in Munich, June 13-15, 2012: the software celebrates its public premiere at the Siemens booth.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. "Optimal planning of solar power plants." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 May 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120510100048.htm>.
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. (2012, May 10). Optimal planning of solar power plants. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 30, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120510100048.htm
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. "Optimal planning of solar power plants." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120510100048.htm (accessed March 30, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Monday, March 30, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Solar Impulse Departs Myanmar for China

Solar Impulse Departs Myanmar for China

AFP (Mar. 30, 2015) — Solar Impulse 2 takes off from Myanmar&apos;s second biggest city of Mandalay and heads for China&apos;s Chongqing, the fifth flight of a landmark journey to circumnavigate the globe powered solely by the sun. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Arthropod Fossil Might Be Relative Of Spiders, Scorpions

New Arthropod Fossil Might Be Relative Of Spiders, Scorpions

Newsy (Mar. 29, 2015) — A 508-million-year-old arthropod that swam in the Cambrian seas is thought to share a common ancestor with spiders and scorpions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Vietnam Rice Boom Piles Pressure on Farmers and the Environment

Vietnam Rice Boom Piles Pressure on Farmers and the Environment

AFP (Mar. 29, 2015) — Vietnam&apos;s drive to become the world&apos;s leading rice exporter is pushing farmers in the fertile Mekong Delta to the brink, say experts, with mounting costs to the environment. Duration: 02:35 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: New Eruptions at Colima Volcano in Mexico

Raw: New Eruptions at Colima Volcano in Mexico

AP (Mar. 28, 2015) — The Colima Volcano in western Mexico sent large columns of ash up into the air on Saturday. (March 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins