UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Design and performance analyses of solar arrays towards a metric of energy value Boivin, Adrian; Westgate, Timothy M.; Holzman, Jonathan


In this work, the contemporary approach of analyzing and optimizing solar technology according to conversion efficiency is expanded upon to recognize an emerging paradigm for supply and demand of solar power. The analyses and optimizations are carried out with respect to energy value density, in units of dollars per metre‐squared, rather than simple energy density, in units of watt‐hours per metre‐squared, given an emerging trend in electricity prices that has become known as the Duck Curve. Such an approach is motivated by economic factors, in areas such as California, where dynamic solar power generation leads to high supply during mid‐day hours, when the demand is low, and low supply during early‐ and late‐day hours, when the demand is high. With this in mind, the metric of energy value density is analyzed for three silicon‐based solar arrays: the Flat‐Panel Array, as an established benchmark, the V‐Groove Array, as an array with enhanced conversion efficiency, and the U‐Groove Array, as a newly‐proposed array with strong performance for energy value density. Experimental characterizations and theoretical analyses are shown for the arrays' energy value density over July 2012 to June 2018. It is shown that the U‐Groove Array yields the greatest performance in terms of energy value density – and the extent of its outperformance is growing. Over the last year of the study, the U‐Groove Array generated 0.36% more value than the V‐Groove Array and 8.76% more value than the Flat‐Panel Array. The prospects for such findings to the solar industry are discussed.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International