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Assessing wind loads for urban photovoltaic installations

Assessing wind loads for urban photovoltaic installations

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Rooftop solar photovoltaic installations are becoming common around the world but knowledge of the wind loads on them is not as advanced. The wind loads are important as they determine the cost of the structure needed to hold the photovoltaic modules in place, which can be a significant proportion of the total project cost. This chapter discusses these wind loads and reviews the few international building codes that cover them. Wind loads can be estimated from wind tunnel tests on model installations or by computational fluid dynamics simulations. We show that there are problems with both methods, due largely to scaling issues for the former and limitations in turbulence modeling for the latter. Wind tunnel tests show significant scatter in module pressures but improvements in test methodologies is likely to reduce these in the future. Future full scale rooftop measurements are also likely to improve our knowledge.

Chapter Contents:

  • Abstract
  • 8.1 Introduction
  • 8.2 Wind loading of PV installations using Australian Standard 1170.2
  • 8.2.1 PV wind loading
  • 8.3 The urban wind environment
  • 8.4 Australian mounting system design practices
  • 8.5 Wind tunnel test methods
  • 8.5.1 Flat roof experiments
  • 8.5.2 Sloped roof experiments
  • 8.6 CFD simulations
  • 8.7 Discussion and analysis
  • 8.8 Conclusions
  • Acknowledgements
  • References

Inspec keywords: computational fluid dynamics; solar cell arrays; mechanical testing; solar power stations; wind tunnels; building integrated photovoltaics

Other keywords: total project cost; full scale rooftop measurements; computational fluid dynamic simulations; test methodologies; international building codes; urban photovoltaic installations; rooftop solar photovoltaic installations; module pressures; turbulence modeling; wind tunnel tests; wind load assessment; photovoltaic modules

Subjects: Applied fluid mechanics; Solar power stations and photovoltaic power systems; Testing; Fluid mechanics and aerodynamics (mechanical engineering); General fluid dynamics theory, simulation and other computational methods; Power and plant engineering (mechanical engineering)

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