Paper: Modeling of Flexible Photovoltaic Modules on Irregularly Curved Surfaces

The increased availability of thin film photovoltaic modules opens up possibilities for the application of flexible solar panels on irregularly curved surfaces. In order to efficiently arrange photovoltaic panels on such surfaces, geometric CAD tools as well as radiation analysis tools are needed. This paper introduces geometric methods that can help in the design of bendable panel geometry.

By automating the generation of possible photovoltaic panel arrangements and linking the geometric tools to solar analysis software, we can analyse large numbers of design options in a relatively short time. The combination of geometry generation and solar analysis allows the optimisation of solar panel configurations for a category of panels for which such methods have hitherto not been available.

The merits of the methods we introduce are illustrated with a case study, for which hundreds of design configurations have been explored in an automated manner. Based on analysis of the numeric data generated for each of the configurations, the effects of panel dimensions and orientation on geometric design considerations and solar energy yield have been established. The quantitative and qualitative conclusions resulting from this analysis have informed the final design of the photovoltaic system in the case study project.

Read the full paper: Modeling of Flexible Photovoltaic Modules on Irregularly Curved Surfaces (pdf)

Images: Abel Groenewolt, ETH Zürich