Assessing Heat Stress in Solar Panels

Heat trapped under solar energy panels is reported to reduce the energy production of rooftop installations of photovoltaic panels. Georgian College researchers are analyzing existing systems to determine how to resolve this issue.

PowerStream is the second largest municipally-owned electricity distribution company in Ontario, supplying electricity to 335,000 residential and business customers. The company has created a business unit, PowerStream Solar, which leases industrial, commercial and institutional rooftops for installation of photovoltaic panels.

Nine photovoltaic arrays from multiple manufacturers have been mounted on a number of different panel mount styles on the rooftop of the Barrie office of PowerStream, where they can be used for research and development. Students working with PowerStream through Georgian College’s Center for Applied Research and Innovation have identified environmental factors that warrant further investigation.

Heat, generated by and trapped under the panel arrays, reduces their efficiency. No current models quantify the relationship between outside temperatures and weather conditions in Southern Ontario to the heat produced under photovoltaic panels and its effect on photovoltaic output. An applied research project currently underway at Georgian College supports a student in the Environmental Technology program during co-op work terms. The student is analyzing performance data and environmental data to determine the effects on efficiency of the photovoltaic panels. The resulting report will allow PowerStream to forecast operational efficiencies more accurately based on local conditions.

“PowerStream is very interested in determining the effects of environmental effects including heating that impact the performance of the roof top solar systems,” says Derek Quigley, C.E.T. Manager of Renewable Energy. “In collaboration with Georgian College student researchers the results from this research initiative will be invaluable to PowerStream in designing and installing optimum rooftop solar systems that have no negative affect on the roofing materials.”

Partner(s): SPINCORE, PowerStream
Funded by: Applied Research and Development (ARD) Grant

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