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Local and environmental impacts on the performance of the PV system at Perth Zoo

Ringland, Sheryn (2015) Local and environmental impacts on the performance of the PV system at Perth Zoo. Other thesis, Murdoch University.

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Photovoltaic (PV) systems, particularly large scale systems, play an important role in producing renewable energy, which can help society reduce its reliance on fossil fuels and reduce our carbon footprint. An initiative designed to develop and implement renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in Perth, the Perth Solar City Program, was launched in November 2009. One component of this program was to build 5 solar energy installations, with a combined capacity of 500kW, at iconic landmarks and locations across Perth. The largest installation in this program was the 237.4kW system at the Perth Zoo, which also happens to be the largest accredited solar power station in Perth.

This system, which was installed in two parts in 2011 and 2012, has 755 modules spread throughout the zoo, installed as 7 arrays in different locations with varying numbers of modules in each array. Each PV system is installed in a unique environment, with varying local and environmental factors affecting the performance of the system, and this project aims to look at how the local environment may be affecting the performance of this particular system and if there is any variation throughout the different sections of the system.

The performance of this system was analysed through the temperature-corrected performance ratio (PR*). The temperature correction is designed to smooth out the variation in performance ratio throughout the year, but some seasonal variation was still seen. A correlation between PR* and temperature found that when the temperature was higher, during summer and March, there was still a relatively strong negative correlation between PR* and temperature, which could be due to higher than calculated module temperatures.

Much of this system was installed on already existing buildings at the zoo, and the system had to make the best with the not ideal orientation and tilt angle of the buildings roofs. Considering the orientation and tilt of the different sets of modules, this system is performing relatively close to what would be expected. The main factors that are causing the performance of the system to be lower than what would be expected are shading due to trees and other structures, and outages and underperformances of specific sets of modules at different times. Both of these factors can potentially be rectified, or minimised, through trimming of certain trees, and more regular maintenance and automatic system checks, which could result in the system performing better, producing more energy and doing it more reliably.

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