Improved planning of photovoltaic power plants

By Martin Bischoff, Siemens


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Published in:

Energy Efficiency Made Simple Vol III: Energy and enviroFiciency
November 2012 - Chapter 8: pages 98 – 99

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The planning of photovoltaic power plants is challenging because many influencing factors and how they affect one another need to be taken into account. The properties of the solar panels and inverters play a role, as does the positioning of the rows of panels in the available space, the distance between the rows, and the electrical connection of the components. The system layout ultimately selected by the planner depends on the location, the weather conditions, the nature of the terrain, and the customer’s preferences. The system should have the lowest possible investment costs while providing the highest possible yield. In reality, however, power plants with more system capacity generally have higher investment costs.

Costs and yield are only two out of many contradictory planning goals. The objective is to find the most economical compromise. Engineers face difficult decisions, as there are many different ways that they can make adjustments in order to identify what might possibly be a better system layout. Many parameters influence each other: For example, although a greater distance between rows of panels reduces the risk of them shading each other, thereby increasing the system’s overall efficiency, it also means that fewer panels can be installed on the site, which reduces the total output of the power plant. So there are a wide variety of possible solutions for every plan.


Take note

  • When planning of photovoltaic power plant, the influencing factors and how they affect one another, need to be taken into account.
  • Until now, photovoltaic systems have usually been manually planned by engineers, a process which is very time-consuming.
  • The newly developed PVplanet software examines a wide variety of layout parameters in a single run – rather than using individual layouts to address the planning goals step-by-step.