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Home » All » Optimizing solar PV systems: Strategies to minimize shading impact

The potential of solar photovoltaic (PV) workflow can be obstructed by shading, whether from nearby structures or towering trees. Shading poses a myriad of challenges for solar energy systems.

One of the most significant concerns about solar systems is excessive shading. Experts project that households could be forfeiting up to 40% of their solar energy potential due to shading, which directly impacts the power output of PV modules.

Understanding how shading affects PV systems

Shading of any kind hampers solar panel production. Even a minor shadow can decrease PV’s production value. To understand shade’s effect, we divide it into three distinct categories.

  1. Dynamic Shading: Moving shadows from objects like passing clouds subject solar panels to dynamic solar shading, which harms consistent energy generation.
  2. Complete Shading: When something completely encloses a solar panel, it stops producing electricity. A single shaded panel can disrupt the entire string, resulting in efficiency loss.
  3. Partial Shading: Only a portion of a panel receives shading, usually covering the most frequently shaded areas. This situation reduces the panel’s effectiveness and can create “hotspots” that may damage the panel over time.

Accurate roof measurements and attentive system design with obstruction detection are crucial to reducing the effects of shading. A solar system designed to work with the specific characteristics of the roof significantly reduces the inefficiencies caused by shade.

Techniques that work to reduce solar shading impact

Implementing these strategies will mitigate the detrimental effects of shading on solar PV systems by enhancing their performance and maximizing ROI through careful tree management, tracking technologies, and dynamic shading solutions.

  • Consider adopting innovative tracking technology that automatically adjusts solar panels to track the sun’s movement to address shading dynamically. There are two primary categories:
    • Dual-axis tracking systems track both azimuth and elevation angles, boosting energy generation by up to 40% compared to fixed panels. These systems pivot along two axes: east-west and north-south. Despite varying costs, these solutions enhance solar system efficiency.
    • Single-axis tracking systems rotate panels along the east-west axis, increasing energy production by up to 25%.
  • Proper orientation and arrangement of solar panels play crucial roles in minimizing shade impact. Professional designers optimize panel layouts using platforms such as Solargraf to ensure optimal sunlight exposure throughout the day.
  • Pruning and tree removal are effective methods for addressing tree shading issues. Selective branch pruning can reduce shade on solar panels while potentially preserving tree health.
  • Innovative technology intelligently tackles shading issues through dynamic shading solutions, such as:
    • Micro-inverters: Installed behind each solar panel, micro-inverters convert DC electricity to AC electricity independently, minimizing the impact of shading on the system.
    • Power optimizers: Operating at the panel level like micro-inverters, these devices ensure that each panel operates optimally, increasing energy production even under shaded conditions.
    • Smart inverters: These innovative inverters optimize overall energy production by redistributing power from shaded panels to unshaded ones, effectively resolving shading challenges.

Using these methods will reduce the adverse impact of shading on the solar PV system. These techniques improve the effectiveness and performance of the solar PV setup while maximizing the return on investment, whether through careful tree management, innovative tracking technologies, or dynamic shading solutions.

Innovative proposal services from Solargraf

Precision is essential when developing a PV system’s strategy and design. Maximizing energy output requires placing solar panels on the roof in the best possible positions to gather the most sunlight. Solargraf uses innovative methods like auto-obstruction detection and assesses shading for every pixel of the roof for every hour of the year.

Identifying obstructions and trees by using 3D model creation and LiDAR visibility

Exact planning and design are crucial in maximizing the effectiveness of PV systems. One creative way to accomplish this is using 3D model development and LiDAR visibility technology.

Making a 3D model

Creating a thorough 3D model of the property and the area around it is essential for locating potential impediments and shading sources. Below is the process:

  • Aerial Imaging: We obtain high-resolution photographs of the property using aerial imaging technology, often operated by drones or other aircraft. We then process these photos to create a 3D model.
  • Measurements: The 3D model precisely measures the property’s structures, trees, and potential shading components. This degree of information allows for the accurate examination of shade patterns throughout the day and across the seasons.

Visibility of LiDAR:

Another effective approach for determining shadowing and obstructions is LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) technology. Here is the process:

  • Laser scanning: LiDAR systems emit laser pulses, and once they strike an object, they monitor how long it takes for the pulses to bounce back. This data produces incredibly detailed 3D maps of the area.
  • Obstruction detection: LiDAR scans can precisely locate obstacles, such as trees, buildings, or other structures, that can cast shadows on the solar panels.
  • Dynamic analysis: LiDAR technology can analyze shade dynamically, considering variations in the sun’s location during the day and year. This technology enables accurate estimations of the potential for energy output.

Furthermore, Solargraf also provides Shade Reports. Shade Reports provide Solar Access Value (SAV), Tilt and Orientation Factor (TOF), and Total Solar Resource Fraction (TSRF) for each roof surface. This data allows for the most precise solar proposal software inputs, leading to highly accurate quotes and designs.

Dealing with shading while installing a PV system is challenging and essential for the best energy production. To mitigate the impacts of shading, Solargraf provides a One-Click Shading Analysis tool that helps create comprehensive proposals. The ability to view the shading image directly over the drawing on the proposal helps homeowners understand that you have recommended the most efficient configuration possible.

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