June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
Energy Conversion and Conservation
26.1381.1 - 26.1381.14
Solar Panel Efficacy vs. Altitude in an Urban City EnvironmentIn light of current issues of global warming, pollution, and fossil fuel depletion, alternative andrenewable energy sources are increasingly desired. Among these, solar energy is a popularoption. However, it is hypothesized that particulate pollution in urban atmospheres limitsphotovoltaic (PV) efficacy both in accumulated grime and also in altitude via sunlightattenuation. The objective of this study is to measure photovoltaic power output during solarnoon at multiple heights within a city environment to determine the influence of altitude onpower output. Building rooftops between 200 and 800 feet were sampled simultaneously with aground level control within a broad university courtyard. Days having zero cloud cover werechosen. Other factors to consider include the “urban heat island” effect and water vapor in theair, so environmental parameters were measured simultaneously to reduce any confoundingerrors. Multiple repeated tests were conducted to increase confidence, especially since the effectwas initially expected to be small. Comparisons in the data are drawn on a percentage basis toeliminate bias between the PV panels used for testing. Preliminary analysis indicates that theeffect of altitude is significant. The visually clear air of the city tested belies a relatively highconcentration of fine particulate matter, possibly leading to light dispersion, and therebylowering PV efficiency via the cosine rule. Analysis of our data provides quantitative measuresby which economic gain may be realized by installing solar panels at higher elevations within acity. This is believed to be a new result.
Elkhatib, W. Y., & Schubert, P. J., & Zusack, S. A., & Rosales, E. C., & Stanforth, A. C. (2015, June), Solar Panel Efficacy vs. Altitude in an Urban City Environment Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24718
ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2015 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015