Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Degree

Master of Engineering Science

Program

Mechanical and Materials Engineering

Supervisor

Kamran Siddiqui

Abstract

Photovoltaic Solar Panels for electricity generation are outdoor low-rise structures that are vulnerable to damage by the wind. The existing building codes do not contain information about the impact of the wind on these structures and hence do not provide comprehensive guidelines to mitigate such impact. The present study is a contribution to the ongoing efforts to codify the wind loading on solar panels. In this study, experimental investigations were conducted on the scaled model of a ground-mounted solar panel structure whose surface is geometrically similar to an inclined flat plate and mounted on three-legged support. The panel comprises of gaps, which divide it into an array of 24 smaller units. The objective of this study is to determine the wind pressure distribution on the panel and characterize the flow dynamics around it. The pressure measurements were conducted through taps connected to pressure transducers for both head-on (0o, 180o) and oblique (30o, 150o) wind directions with the panel inclined at 25o and 40o. The results indicate that larger inclination angles increased the wind forcing on the panel. At a panel inclination of 25o, velocity fields of the wind approaching head-on at 0o were captured to examine the flow field using particle image velocimetry (PIV) technique. The mean and turbulent velocities around the panel are computed and presented. The results indicate that the gaps between each unit of the panel influenced the wind loading pattern on the solar panel.