Event date:
Oct 11 2021 12:00 pm

Study of Edge Effects for Shading in Various Agrivoltaic Panel Configurations

Dr. Nauman Zafar Butt
Maira Farman
Zoom Meetings (Online)
MS Thesis defense


Agrivoltaic system (AVS) is a combined system comprising of crops underneath photovoltaic (PV) panels. The strategy behind this system is to get both food and energy supply from solar radiation. AVS has great significance in terms of ensuring food security, the viability of future production of renewable energy, and the economic growth of agriculture. Solar panels cast some shadow on the crops growing underneath in this combined agrivoltaic system (AVS). Shading produced by the Photovoltaic (PV) panels can result in the reduction of average light required for the crops. Can shading improve crop yield for some crops? Also, can shading reduce water budget? PV module may need to be elevated above the ground for unproblematic farming of crops. This research aims to investigate optimal solar PV configurations for Agrivoltaic systems (AVS), to maintain a balance between global production of renewable energy and crop production. In this thesis, six different prototypes including South facing fixed-tilt PV module elevated 1m, 3m and 5m from the ground configurations, vertical East/West faced fixed-tilt PV module having 1m and 3m pole height configurations and East-West horizontal single-axis tracking (HSAT) scheme with PV module elevated 3m from the ground level have been adopted to analyze the dependence of edge effects on South faced vs. vertical East/West faced PV arrays, height of panels from the ground, azimuthal angle of PV rows and monthly variations of Sun angles. Light radiations output and daily energy production per hour simulations have been taken yearly through Energy 3D software and contour plots are drawn using MATLAB to analyze the shading pattern of photovoltaic panels on crops and energy analysis in this agrivoltaic system. 

Modeling results for Lahore show that panels elevation above the ground level has a significant impact on the conglomeration of solar radiations at the crop level. It is observed that the shading pattern of solar panels on crops is different close to the edges as compared to the internal rows of the panels, in the agrivoltaic system. The shading pattern under solar panels changes seasonally in this combined system as the light and shade travel with sun elevation. That is why, the shadow effect of solar panels may have a different impact on the yield of winter crops compared to summer crops. Because of low shadow duration and insolation uniformity, the east-west faced systems may be more favorable than fixed south-facing systems. By using a solar-tracking system both crop yield and PV panels efficiency may be optimized. The full density (FD) agrivoltaic system was considered most favorable for energy production but it allows only 50 percent light radiations to reach crop level. Half density AVS allowed about 70 percent of solar radiations to reach the crops underneath PV panels. A reduced solar panel density may therefore be required to achieve good crop yield. This thesis investigates the optimization of all parameters to analyze the effect of shadow at the edges vs. the central locations of the Photovoltaic arrays. This investigation suggests that south-facing fixed-tilt PV mounted system provides non-uniform distribution of light radiations at crop level throughout the year, the simulations of light radiations for vertical E/W faced fixed tilt PV system revealed that the availability of radiations at crop level is homogenous throughout the area of AVS for the whole year, and East-West HSAT provides lowest light radiations throughout the area of AVS. 

Evaluation Committee: 

  • Dr. Nauman Zafar Butt (Supervisor)
  • Dr. Mashood Nasir (Evaluator)

Zoom Link: https://lums-edu-pk.zoom.us/j/91933587819?pwd=STM3a3lrb29FYnJmOElidVhTTGtCUT09

Meeting ID:  919 3358 7819

Passcode: 905650