Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Engineering Science


Mechanical and Materials Engineering


Dr. Horia M. Hangan


Unsteady Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) simulations are carried out to estimate the wind loads on stand-alone and arrayed sets of solar panels for various wind directions. Given the fact that wind is not limited to one single direction, different azimuthal angles (0°, 30°,60°, 120°, 150°, and 180°) have been modeled for four inclination angles of the solar panels (130°, 140°, 145°, 150°) with respect to the horizon. Two methods including engineering codes and a Gumbled distribution over a statistical data are performed to determine the wind velocity profile in the Southwestern Ontario region where these panels are intended to be installed. Various turbulence models have been used to simulate the turbulent wind flow. The results have been validated against experimental data and showed that, overall, the Reynolds Stress Model (RSM) produces the best fit. Simulations were then carried out to identify the critically loaded panels and critical wind directions. For stand-alone panel cases, corner panels are identified to be the most critical ones in terms of wind loading. For azimuthal wind directions of 0° and 180°, the entire structure experiences the highest wind loading. At an azimuthal angle equal to 150°, the top corner panels experience the largest fluctuating resultant force and can be therefore considered as another critical case. For arrayed sets of solar panels, the first and last rows of panels are identified to be the most critical panels. The critical angles are found to be the same as for the stand-alone panels at 0° and 180°. A comparison between stand-alone and arrayed sets of panels has been made and it showed that with similar boundary conditions, arrayed sets of solar panels experience higher aerodynamic forces compared to the stand-alone panels. Based on this comparison, a correction factor was suggested to determine the aerodynamic forces experienced by arrayed sets of solar panels when the forces for the stand alone case is available.



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