Scientists from the Leipzig University of Applied Sciences have looked at the potential impact of deploying vertical west-east oriented PV systems on a massive scale in the German energy market. They have found that such installations could have a beneficial effect in stabilizing the country's grid, while allowing greater integration with agricultural activities than with conventional ground-mounted PV plants.
The researchers used the EnergyPLAN model developed by Aalborg University in Denmark. It is commonly used to simulate the operation of national energy systems on an hourly basis, including the electricity, heating, cooling, industry, and transport sectors. It helps to predict how the German energy system might look like with more vertical PV by 2030.
“Only two parameters are systematically varied: firstly, the share of installed power of the different PV variants,” the academics said, noting that they did not consider solar trackers. “Secondly, two scenarios are considered, in which either a large-scale electricity storage is integrated or not.”
For conventional ground-mounted systems, the scientists considered a tilt angle of 20 degrees and an average estimated energy yield 1,020 Wh/W. For the bifacial vertical west-east oriented systems, they assumed a bifaciality factor of 90% and an annual energy yield of 999 Wh/W, while for vertical systems with a north-south orientation the annual energy yield was indicated at 926 Wh/W.
“In our model electricity demand for 2030 increases to 1,214 TWh/a and depends mainly on the assumptions for energy saving and fuel switch,” they said. “The greatest uncertainties are in the heat supply for buildings and industry.”
They also took into account the higher costs of bifacial panels, as well as that the installable power per area of vertical installation is lower due to shading effects, as the module row distance usually ranges from 8 meters to 12 meters, which in turn increases wiring costs.
“The additional cost for the land itself must be shared with the retained agricultural land use or benefit due to biodiversity promotion,” they said.
The scientists found that vertical PV systems can shift solar yield into hours of higher electricity demand and more electricity supply in the winter months, thus reducing solar curtailment.
“If electricity storage of 1 TW charging and discharging power and 1 TWh capacity is integrated into the energy system model, the effect is reduced to CO2 savings of up to 2.1 Mt/a with 70% vertical east-west and 30% inclined south facing modules,” they said. “Finally, while it might seem unrealistic for some to achieve a rate of 70% vertical power plants, even a lower rate has a beneficial impact.”
They described their findings in “Integration of vertical solar power plants into a future German energy system, published in Smart Energy. “The intention of this paper is by no means suggesting for all utility PV systems being vertically mounted in future,” they concluded. “Much rather a new opportunity is highlighted. Vertical PV systems can support the overall energy system.”
This content is protected by copyright and may not be reused. If you want to cooperate with us and would like to reuse some of our content, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have similar vertical strings they work great
To me, the headline suggested that a “stabilizing effect” was unique to this configuration. Turns out, no more so than the standard tilt. Might as well say, “…but it still produces power!”
Experimentally this configuration does seem to offer some advantages. As a layman who loves to Experiment with solar energy . I purchased a 100 watt solar system to play with. And do time/energy and possible improvement of output from the affordable HF 100 watt panels. As a result of this experience, playing with the angles and different styles of layouts. One fact is the amount of heat generated by the panels is to be considered as well. More heat equals less output, and adds to the local environment. The vertical approach would solve more problems than it would create. Back to back would make a tank between them, cooling and improvement of output. Use of the now heated water for other purposes. Most of all less space is used and crops can be grown, and use of artificial shade from the afternoon sun 🌞. Thank you for your thought provoking article 😀
I put a 7800 watt rooftop system on 3/12 roof, 15 degrees south of west. It makes 10-11 MWhr/year, first four years. Just saying, do the math
Yes, Jeffrey Antman. I would like to see all suitable rooftops and parking lots, especially the large commercial sites, installed with solar before there are any installations in more natural settings. We have so many man-made surfaces that could support solar and it’s a shame to continue to spread more hardware over the land instead of putting it on top of what we have already built. I’ve actually seen forested areas cleared for the express purpose of installing a solar farm! That to me is one of the most egregious things being done these days in the supposed name of sustainable energy.
Agreed! I can never understand why the negative carbon effects of solar over green areas isn’t taken into account. I see these installations all the time and think how nature is still much better than we are at eliminating carbon from the atmosphere and these panels do more harm than good. I want to see more above parking lots where people are always looking for a shady spot to park anyway and that would help cut down on idling vehicles to run the AC in advance. Stop covering green areas with solar panels when there are plenty of better places for them now!
I completely agree with use of already existing space rather taking up natural green space that is already capturing CO2 from the atmosphere.
Ideas like this illustrate the value to be had in creating a grid ecosystem that allows electric cars to be connected to the grid and used for power management in as many places as possible.
If you had a million electric cars plugged in while people are working you could use up the solar power instead of trading productivity for load management.
Vertical installation also creates a new liability than needs to be considered. Higher cost for the stronger structure needed for the panels to deal with wind loads. Much less to no problem for the usual setup.
Outside ones be reinforced with triangle to floor, then internal one all tied together. Strength vs cost would not be too much of an issue
I can see a lot of new surfaces for cows and livestock to rub on and itch themselves.
By submitting this form you agree to pv magazine using your data for the purposes of publishing your comment.
Your personal data will only be disclosed or otherwise transmitted to third parties for the purposes of spam filtering or if this is necessary for technical maintenance of the website. Any other transfer to third parties will not take place unless this is justified on the basis of applicable data protection regulations or if pv magazine is legally obliged to do so.
You may revoke this consent at any time with effect for the future, in which case your personal data will be deleted immediately. Otherwise, your data will be deleted if pv magazine has processed your request or the purpose of data storage is fulfilled.
Further information on data privacy can be found in our Data Protection Policy.