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Performance evaluation of Perth PV systems

Stewart, Troy (2015) Performance evaluation of Perth PV systems. Other thesis, Murdoch University.

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This paper focuses on the performance of the 56kWp PV installation of the north facing elevation of the library at the South Street campus of Murdoch University. This installation was the first step in Murdoch University’s goal to becoming the first privately owned solar power station and the largest PV installation in Perth, Western Australia [1]. In order to perform this analysis, it has been essential to gather output data for the installation from the data acquisition program, which operates around the clock recording this data from the array inverters. A crucial step was to collect weather and meteorological data from sources on the Murdoch campus, this data was used in the performance analysis in order to calculate system loss, efficiency and overall system performance.

This analysis was performed in order to gain a better understanding of the subject matter of solar generation. There are still aspects of large scale solar power generation which are yet to be studied more extensively. This report is centred around the 56kWp solar generator located at Murdoch University’s South Street campus, to enable to University to gain a better understanding of the total power being produced from the system. It is also important to recognise where there is room for improvement in design and application through the study into areas such as soiling, shading and general performance characteristics. This report will allow the University to make an educated and informed decision on any future upgrades or extensions onto the existing system.

Data acquired from the array was used to show how it performs in many different environmental conditions, through the use of modelling programs such as PVSyst and data graphing programs such as Microsoft Excel. By plotting output power data against temperature, rainfall, time of day and output voltage comparison graphs can be produced that allow readers to visualize and understand exactly how each characteristic affects the performance of PV systems in the Perth metropolitan region.

Through this project the array performance characteristics were evaluated. It was found that the array has an average performance ratio of 0.85 for 2014, and that the array does indeed perform well in the Perth region. It was also found that shading impacts the array in a very noticeable way, this shows up as a noticeable depression on the affected inverters. Following through on a soiling study it was found that the array does indeed suffer from the soiling effect, most notably during long periods of dry weather. Degradation effects were also studied during the project but no evidence of these effects were found, these effects will be more prevalent in a longer period of study.

These findings are significant because it allows for a comparison with other arrays in the Perth demographic, the typical array performance ratios in the Perth region is approximately 0.8 [2] [3], from this it can be concluded that the Murdoch array performs better than expected for the region. Shading impacts PV generation and this is evident in the array data. It can also lead to more significant issues such as hot spots and module damage and this can become a costly problem. Soiling has been proven in this scenario to reduce the overall performance of the array, this has been shown through a slow reduction in performance over a long dry period then an increase after a period of heavy rain. Degradation is the biggest issue affecting PV arrays around the world, the cells in the modules experience an aging effect and see a reduction in performance. The Murdoch array has not yet shown signs of degradation in the analysis period of this report of five years, this is indicative of the quality of the installation and the cell manufacturing quality.

Item Type: Thesis (Other)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Engineering and Information Technology
Supervisor(s): Parlevliet, David
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