Document Type

Thesis

Degree

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Civil Engineering

First Advisor's Name

Girma Bitsuamlak

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Arindam Gan Chowdhury

Third Advisor's Name

Yimin Zhu

Keywords

wind loads, solar panels

Date of Defense

12-2-2011

Abstract

The current impetus for alternative energy sources is increasing the demand for solar energy technologies in Florida – the Sunshine State. Florida’s energy production from solar, thermal or photovoltaic sources accounts for only 0.005% of the state total energy generation. The existing types of technologies, methods of installation, and mounting locations for solar panels vary significantly, and are consequently affected by wind loads in different ways. The fact that Florida is frequently under hurricane risk and the lack of information related with design wind loads on solar panels result in a limited use of solar panels for generating energy in the “Sunshine State” Florida. By using Boundary Layer Wind Tunnel testing techniques, the present study evaluates the effects of wind on solar panels, and provides explicit and reliable information on design wind loads in the form of pressure coefficient value. The study considered two different types of solar panel arrangements, (1) isolated solar panel and (2) arrays, and two different mounting locations, (1) ground mounted and (2) roof mounted. Detailed wind load information was produced as part of this study for isolated and arrayed solar panels. Two main conclusions from this study are the following:(1) for isolated solar panel with high slopes the wind load for wind angle of attack (AoA) perpendicular to the main axis exhibited the largest wind loads; (2) for arrays, while the outer rows and column were subjected to high wind loads for AoA perpendicular to the main axis, the interior solar panels were subjected to higher loads for oblique AoA.

Identifier

FI12041903

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