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SolarSystemSizing
FromOpenElectrical

Contents
1Introduction
1.1Whydothecalculation?
1.2Whentodothecalculation?
2CalculationMethodology
2.1Step1:EstimateSolarIrradiationattheSite
2.1.1BaselineSolarIrradiationData
2.1.2SolarIrradiationonanInclinedPlane
2.1.3SolarTrackers
2.1.4NonStandardApplications
2.2Step2:CollecttheSolarPowerSystemLoads
2.3Step3:ConstructaLoadProfile
2.4Step4:BatteryCapacitySizing
2.5Step5:EstimateaSinglePVModule'sOutput
2.5.1EffectivePVCellTemperature
2.5.2StandardRegulator
2.5.3MPPTRegulator
2.6Step6:SizethePVArray
2.6.1StandardRegulator
2.6.2MPPTController
3WorkedExample
3.1Step1:EstimateSolarIrradiationattheSite
3.2Step2and3:CollectLoadsandConstructaLoadProfile
3.3Step4:BatteryCapacitySizing
3.4Step5:EstimateaSinglePVModule'sOutput
3.5Step6:SizethePVArray
4ComputerSoftware
5WhatNext?

Introduction
Thiscalculationoutlinesthesizingofastandalonesolarphotovoltaic(PV)powersystem.StandalonePV
systemsarecommonlyusedtosupplypowertosmall,remoteinstallations(e.g.telecoms)whereitisn't
practicalorcostefficienttorunatransmissionlineorhavealternativegenerationsuchasdieselgensets.
AlthoughthiscalculationisbiasedtowardsstandalonesolarPVsystems,itcanalsobeusedforhybrid
systemsthatdrawpowerfrommixedsources(e.g.commercialPV,hybridwindPVsystems,etc).Loads
mustbeadjustedaccordingtothedesiredamountthatthesolarPVsystemwillsupply.
ThiscalculationisbasedoncrystallinesiliconPVtechnology.Theresultsmaynotholdforothertypesof
solarPVtechnologiesandthemanufacturer'srecommendationswillneedtobeconsulted.

Whydothecalculation?
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ThiscalculationshouldbedonewheneverasolarPVpower
systemisrequiredsothatthesystemisabletoadequatelycater
forthenecessaryloads.Theresultscanbeusedtodetermine
theratingsofthesystemcomponents(e.g.PVarray,batteries,
etc).

Whentodothecalculation?
Thefollowingprerequisiteinformationisrequiredbefore
performingthecalculation:
LoadsrequiredtobesupportedbythesolarPV
system
Autonomytimeorminimumtolerabledowntime
(i.e.ifthereisnosun,howlongcanthesystembe
outofservice?)
GPScoordinatesofthesite(ormeasurementsof
thesolarinsolationatthesite)
Outputvoltage(ACorDC)

Figure1.SolarPVarray

CalculationMethodology
ThecalculationislooselybasedonAS/NZS4509.2(2002)
(http://infostore.saiglobal.com/store/Details.aspx?ProductID=315646)"StandalonepowersystemsSystem
designguidelines".Themethodologyhasthefollowingsixsteps:
Step1:Estimatethesolarirradiationavailableatthesite(basedonGPScoordinatesor
measurement)
Step2:Collecttheloadsthatwillbesupportedbythesystem
Step3:Constructaloadprofileandcalculatedesignloadanddesignenergy
Step4:Calculatetherequiredbatterycapacitybasedonthedesignloads
Step5:EstimatetheoutputofasinglePVmoduleattheproposedsitelocation
Step6:CalculatesizeofthePVarray

Step1:EstimateSolarIrradiationattheSite
Thefirststepistodeterminethesolar
resourceavailabilityatthesite.Solar
resourcesaretypicallydiscussedin
termsofsolarradiation,whichismore
orlessthecatchalltermforsunlight
shiningonasurface.Solarradiation
consistsofthreemaincomponents:
Directorbeamradiation
ismadeupofbeamsof
unscatteredandunreflected
lightreachingthesurface
inastraightlinedirectly
Figure2.Worldsolarirradiationmap
fromthesun
Diffuseradiationis
scatteredlightreachingthe
surfacefromthewholesky(butnotdirectlyfromthesun)
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Albedoradiationisislightreflectedontothesurfacefromtheground
Solarradiationcanbequantitativelymeasuredbyirradianceandirradiation.Notethatthetermsaredistinct
"irradiance"referstothedensityofthepowerthatfallsonasurface(W/m2)and"irradiation"isthe
densityoftheenergythatfallsonasurfaceoversomeperiodoftimesuchasanhouroraday(e.g.Wh/
m2perhour/day).
Inthissection,wewillestimatethesolarradiationavailableatthesitebasedondatacollectedinthepast.
However,itneedstobestressedthatsolarradiationisstatisticallyrandominnatureandthereisinherent
uncertaintyinusingpastdatatopredictfutureirradiation.Therefore,wewillneedtobuildindesign
marginssothatthesystemisrobusttopredictionerror.
BaselineSolarIrradiationData
Theeasiestoptionistoestimatethesolarirradiation(orsolarinsolation)byinputtingtheGPScoordinates
ofthesiteintotheNASASurfaceMeteorologyandSolarResource(http://eosweb.larc.nasa.gov/cgi
bin/sse/sse.cgi)website.
ForanygivensetofGPScoordinates,thewebsiteprovidesfirstpassestimatesofthemonthlyminimum,
averageandmaximumsolarirradiation(inkWh/m2/day)atgroundlevelandatvarioustiltangles.
Collectthisdata,chooseanappropriatetiltangleandidentifythebestandworstmonthsoftheyearin
termsofsolarirradiation.Alternatively,forUSlocationsdatafromtheNationalSolarRadiationDatabase
(http://www.nrel.gov/rredc/solar_data.html)canbeused.
Theminimum,averageandmaximumdaytimetemperaturesatthesitecanalsobedeterminedfromthe
publicdatabaseslistedabove.ThesetemperatureswillbeusedlaterwhencalculatingtheeffectivePVcell
temperature.
Actualsolarirradiationmeasurementscanalsobemadeatthesite.Providedthatthemeasurementsare
takenoveralongenoughperiod(orcrossreferenced/combinedwithpublicdata),thenthemeasurements
wouldprovideamoreaccurateestimateofthesolarirradiationatthesiteastheywouldcapturesite
specificcharacteristics,e.g.anyobstructionstosolarradiationsuchaslargebuildings,trees,mountains,
etc.
SolarIrradiationonanInclinedPlane
MostPVarraysareinstalledsuchthattheyfacetheequatorataninclinetothehorizontal(formaximum
solarcollection).Theamountofsolarirradiationcollectedoninclinedsurfacesisdifferenttotheamount
collectedonahorizontalsurface.Itistheoreticallypossibletoaccuratelyestimatethesolarirradiationon
anyinclinedsurfacegiventhesolarirradiationonanhorizontalplaneandthetiltangle(therearenumerous
researchpapersonthistopic,forexampletheworkdonebyLiuandJordanin1960).
However,forthepracticalpurposeofdesigningasolarPVsystem,we'llonlylookatestimatingthesolar
irradiationattheoptimaltiltangle,whichistheinclinethatcollectsthemostsolarirradiation.The
optimaltiltanglelargelydependsonthelatitudeofthesite.Atgreaterlatitudes,theoptimaltiltangleis
higherasitfavourssummertimeradiationcollectionoverwintertimecollection.TheHandbookof
PhotovoltaicScienceandEngineering(http://www.amazon.com/HandbookPhotovoltaicScience
EngineeringAntonio/dp/0471491969)suggestsalinearapproximationtocalculatingtheoptimaltiltangle:

Where

istheoptimaltiltangle(deg)

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isthelatitudeofthesite(deg)
Thehandbookalsosuggestsapolynomialapproximationforthesolarirradiationattheoptimaltiltangle:

Where

isthesolarirradiationonasurfaceattheoptimaltiltangle(Wh/m2)
isthesolarirradiationonthehorizontalplane(Wh/m2)
istheoptimaltiltangle(deg)

Alternatively,theestimatedirradiationdataontiltedplanescanbesourceddirectlyfromthevariouspublic
databaseslistedabove.
SolarTrackers
Solartrackersaremechanicaldevicesthatcantrackthepositionofthesunthroughoutthedayandorient
thePVarrayaccordingly.Theuseoftrackerscansignificantlyincreasethesolarirradiationcollectedbya
surface.Solartrackerstypicallyincreaseirradiationby1.2to1.4times(for1axistrackers)and1.3to1.5
times(for2axistrackers)comparedtoafixedsurfaceattheoptimaltiltangle.
NonStandardApplications
Asolarirradiationlossfactorshouldbeusedforapplicationswheretherearehightiltangles(e.g.vertical
PVarraysaspartofabuildingfacade)orverylowtiltangles(e.g.NorthSouthhorizontaltrackers).Thisis
becausethethesolarirradiationissignificantlyaffected(detrimentally)whentheangleofincidenceishigh
orthesolarradiationismainlydiffuse(i.e.noalbedoeffectsfromgroundreflections).Formoredetailson
thislossfactor,consultthestandardASHRAE93,"Methodsoftestingtodeterminethethermal
performanceofsolarcollectors"(http://www.techstreet.com/standards/ASHRAE/93_2010?
product_id=1703551).

Step2:CollecttheSolarPowerSystemLoads
Thenextstepistodeterminethetypeandquantityofloadsthatthesolarpowersystemneedstosupport.
Forremoteindustrialapplications,suchasmeteringstations,theloadsarenormallyforcontrolsystemsand
instrumentationequipment.Forcommercialapplications,suchastelecommunications,theloadsarethe
telecomshardwareandpossiblysomesmallarealightingformaintenance.Forruralelectrificationand
residentialapplications,theloadsaretypicallydomesticlightingandlowpoweredapppliances,e.g.
computers,radios,smalltv's,etc.

Step3:ConstructaLoadProfile
RefertotheLoadProfileCalculationfordetailsonhowtoconstructaloadprofileandcalculatethedesign
load(
)anddesignenergy(
).Typically,the"24HourProfile"methodforconstructingaload
profileisusedforSolarPowerSystems.

Step4:BatteryCapacitySizing
InasolarPVpowersystem,thebatteryisusedtoprovidebackupenergystorageandalsotomaintain
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outputvoltagestability.RefertotheBatterySizingCalculationfordetailsonhowtosizethebatteryforthe
solarpowersystem.

Step5:EstimateaSinglePVModule'sOutput
ItisassumedthataspecificPVmoduletype(e.gSuntechSTP070S12Bb)hasbeenselectedandthe
followingparameterscollected:
Peakmodulepower,
(Wp)
Nominalvoltage
(Vdc)
Opencircuitvoltage
(Vdc)
Optimumoperatingvoltage
(Vdc)
Shortcircuitcurrent
(A)
Optimumoperatingcurrent
(A)
Peakpowertemperaturecoefficient (%perdegC)
Manufacturer'spoweroutputtolerance
(%)
ManufacturersusuallyquotethesePVmoduleparametersbasedonStandardTestConditions(STC):an
irradianceof1,000W/m2,thestandardreferencespectralirradiancewithAirMass1.5(seetheNRELsite
(http://rredc.nrel.gov/solar/spectra/am1.5/)formoredetails)andacelltemperatureof25degC.Standard
testconditionsrarelyprevailonsiteandwhenthePVmoduleareinstalledinthefield,theoutputmustbe
deratedaccordingly.
EffectivePVCellTemperature
Firstly,theaverageeffectivePVcelltemperatureattheinstallationsiteneedstobecalculated(asitwillbe
usedinthesubsequentcalculations).ItcanbeestimatedforeachmonthusingAS\NZS4509.2equation
3.4.3.7:

Where

istheaverageeffectivePVcelltemperature(degC)
istheaveragedaytimeambienttemperatureatthesite(degC)

StandardRegulator
Forasolarpowersystemusingastandardswitchedchargeregulator/controller,thederatedpoweroutput
ofthePVmodulecanbecalculatedusingAS\NZS4509.2equation3.4.3.9(1):

Where
(W)

isthederatedpoweroutputofthePVmoduleusingastandardswitchedchargecontroller
isthedailyaverageoperatingvoltage(Vdc)
isthemoduleoutputcurrentbasedonthedailyaverageoperatingvoltage,atthe
effectiveaveragecelltemperatureandsolarirradianceatthesitemoreonthisbelow(A)
isthemanufacturer'spoweroutputtolerance(pu)
isthederatingfactorfordirt/soiling(Clean:1.0,Low:0.98,Med:0.97,High:0.92)

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Toestimate
,youwillneedtheIVcharacteristiccurveofthePVmoduleattheeffectivecell
temperaturecalculatedabove.Foraswitchedregulator,theaveragePVmoduleoperatingvoltageis
generallyequaltotheaveragebatteryvoltagelessvoltagedropsacrossthecablesandregulator.
MPPTRegulator
ForasolarpowersystemusingaMaximumPowerPointTracking(MPPT)chargeregulator/controller,
thederatedpoweroutputofthePVmodulecanbecalculatedusingAS\NZS4509.2equation3.4.3.9(2):

Where

isthederatedpoweroutputofthePVmoduleusinganMPPTchargecontroller(W)
isthenominalmodulepowerunderstandardtestconditions(W)
isthemanufacturer'spoweroutputtolerance(pu)
isthederatingfactorfordirt/soiling(Clean:1.0,Low:0.98,Med:0.97,High:0.92)
isthetemperaturederatingfactorseebelow(pu)

ThetemperaturederatingfactorisdeterminedfromAS\NZS4509.2equation3.4.3.9(1):

Where

istemperaturederatingfactor(pu)
isthePowerTemperatureCoefficient(%perdegC)
istheaverageeffectivePVcelltemperature(degC)
isthetemperatureunderstandardtestconditions(typically25degC)

Step6:SizethePVArray
ThesizingofthePVarraydescribedbelowisbasedonthemethodoutlinedinAS/NZS4509.2.Thereare
alternativesizingmethodologies,forexamplethemethodbasedonreliabilityintermsoflossofload
probability(LLP),butthesemethodswillnotbefurtherelaboratedinthisarticle.Thefactthatthereisno
commonlyacceptedsizingmethodologyreflectsthedifficultyofperformingwhatisaninherently
uncertaintask(i.e.apredictionexercisewithmanyrandomfactorsinvolved).
StandardRegulator
ThenumberofPVmodulesrequiredforthePVarraycanbefoundbyusingAS\NZS4509.2equation
3.4.3.11(1):

Where

isthenumberofPVmodulesrequired
isthederatedpoweroutputofthePVmodule(W)
isthetotaldesigndailyenergy(VAh)
istheoversupplycoefficient(pu)
isthesolarirradiationafterallfactors(e.g.tiltangle,tracking,etc)havebeencaptured
(kWh/m2/day)

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isthecoulombicefficiencyofthebattery(pu)
Theoversupplycoefficient isadesigncontingencyfactortocapturetheuncertaintyindesigningsolar
powersystemswherefuturesolarirradiationisnotdeterministic.AS/NZS4509.2Table1recommends
oversupplycoefficientsofbetween1.3and2.0.
Abatterycoulombicefficiencyofapproximately95%wouldbetypicallyused.
MPPTController
ThenumberofPVmodulesrequiredforthePVarraycanbefoundbyusingAS\NZS4509.2equation
3.4.3.11(2):

Where

isthenumberofPVmodulesrequired
isthederatedpoweroutputofthePVmodule(W)
isthetotaldesigndailyenergy(VAh)
istheoversupplycoefficient(pu)
isthesolarirradiationafterallfactors(e.g.tiltangle,tracking,etc)havebeencaptured
(kWh/m2/day)
istheefficiencyofthePVsubsystem(pu)

Theoversupplycoefficient isadesigncontingencyfactortocapturetheuncertaintyindesigningsolar
powersystemswherefuturesolarirradiationisnotdeterministic.AS/NZS4509.2Table1recommends
oversupplycoefficientsofbetween1.3and2.0.
TheefficiencyofthePVsubsystem
isthecombinedefficienciesofthechargeregulator/
controller,batteryandtransmissionthroughthecablebetweenthePVarrayandthebattery.Thiswill
dependonspecificcircumstances(forexample,thePVarrayalargedistancefromthebattery),thoughan
efficiencyofaround90%wouldbetypicallyused.

WorkedExample
Asmallstandalonesolarpowersystemwillbedesignedforatelecommunicationsoutpostlocatedinthe
desert.

Step1:EstimateSolarIrradiationattheSite
Fromsitemeasurements,thesolarirradiationatthesiteduringtheworstmonthattheoptimaltitleangleis
4.05kWh/m2/day.

Step2and3:CollectLoadsandConstructaLoadProfile
Forthisexample,weshallusethesameloadsandloadprofiledetailedintheEnergyLoadProfile
Calculationexample.Theloadprofileisshowninthefigurerightandthefollowingquantitieswere
calculated:
DesignloadSd=768VA
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DesignenergydemandEd=
3,216VAh

Step4:BatteryCapacitySizing
Forthisexample,weshallusethesame
batterysizescalculatedintheBattery
SizingCalculation]workedexample.The
selectednumberofcellsinseriesis62
cellsandtheminimumbatterycapacityis
44.4Ah.

Step5:EstimateaSinglePV
Module'sOutput
APVmodulewiththefollowing
characteristicsischosen:

Figure3.Loadprofileforthisexample

Peakmodulepower,
Wp
Nominalvoltage
Vdc
Peakpowertemperaturecoefficient
Manufacturer'spoweroutputtolerance

%perdegC
%

Supposetheaveragedaytimeambienttemperatureis40C.TheeffectivePVcelltemperatureis:

degC
AnMPPTcontrollerwillbeused.Thetemperaturederatingfactoristherefore:

Givenamediumdirtderatingfactorof0.97,thederatedpoweroutputofthePVmoduleis:

Step6:SizethePVArray
Givenanoversupplycoefficientof1.1andaPVsubsystemefficiencyof85%,thenumberofPVmodules
requiredforthePVarrayforaMPPTregulatoris:

10.9588modules
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ForthisPVarray,12modulesareselected.

ComputerSoftware
ItisrecommendedthatthesolarPVsystemsizedinthiscalculationissimulatedwithcomputersoftware.
Forexample,HOMER(http://www.homerenergy.com/)isapopularsoftwarepackageforsimulatingand
optimisingadistributedgeneration(DG)systemoriginallydevelopedbytheNationalRenewableEnergy
Laboratory(NREL).
ScreenshotsfromHOMERsoftware

PVOutput

BatteryOutput

WhatNext?
Withthesizingcalculationcompleted,thesolarPVequipment(PVarray,batteries,chargecontrollers,etc)
canbespecifiedandacostestimateorbudgetenquiry/requisitionpackageissued.Theapproximate
dimensionsoftheequipment(especiallythePVarrayandbatteries)canalsobeestimatedandadesign
layoutcanbeproduced.
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