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Project title

Design and Analysis of Solar Panel Support Tracker

Abstract: Many design approaches of the supporting structures have been
presented in order to achieve the maximum efficiency. They are loaded mainly
by aerodynamic pressures. They are loaded mainly by aerodynamic pressures.
International governance as well as the competition between industries define that
they must withstand the enormous loads that result from large air acceleration.
Optimization plays very key role in product design and prevent un-necessary
inventory satisfying the functional needs. But optimization with apt design helps
to build efficient products in the everyday competing market. Stress analysis
plays important role in optimizing the design. Due to the advance in computer
based finite volume method simulation design process is made simple by easier
methods fast replacing prototype built up and testing. In the current work, a solar
panel aiding structure is designed to take rotational loads for safe operation. So,
the design should consider the loads coming on the structure for rotation along
with inertia effect of the rotating members. The mechanism should withstand the
aerodynamic loads, inertia loads and rotation loads along with frictional loads.
The model should look at aerodynamic circumstances for load calculations and
design should satisfy all the functional requirements. The present work
investigates the effect of real time wind flow on stress developed and torque
generated. CAD model of solar panel support structure is developed using Creo
2.0 software and CFD analysis is conducted using ANSYS CFX.

Keywords: Wind Loads, FEA, Aerodynamic loads, ANSYS CFX, Optimization,

Renewable Energy
Chapter 1
1.1 Background
Solar energy is a renewable and clean energy which is a sustainable alternative to
fossil fuels, from an environmental perspective. One of the current technologies
to harness solar energy is to use solar cells attached on panels (hence referred as
solar panels) which convert the solar radiation into electricity. During the past
decade, many researchers have attempted to improve their power generation
efficiency to make it competitive with conventional sources of energy. Despite
the environmental blessings of alternative energy and therefore the speedy
development of star plants, there are some difficulties which hinder their vast
implementation. The main obstacle of victimization solar panels in industrial
scale is that the initial capital. The value of structure of star panels could be a
significant slice of the overall cost. Therefore, section size improvement of
the structure is crucial so as to cut back the initial value of solar panels. There
are several benefits to solar energy that have caused governments to support the
growth of the solar panel industry. Provided the location is good, the simplest
reason is that solar panels are a reliable renewable energy source. The other
reasons have to do less to do with how much energy is provided and more to do
with the way in which the energy is provided. Solar panels receive their energy
from the sun and thus only produce energy when the sun is out. This mostly
corresponds with peak energy consumption times, when the demand for energy
is greatest. This means that solar panels provide the most energy at the times
when energy is most needed. This can be very beneficial to utility companies
because normally they have to build and operate extra plants to deal with these
peaks in energy demand. The other benefit of solar panels is that they can be
installed on private homes and businesses. On the individual level this allows
households and businesses to produce a significant portion of their energy
themselves, and with expected improvements in the performance of solar panels,
solar energy producing households may one day achieve self-sufficiency. On a
societal level this is a step away from a centralized model of energy supply and
toward a more distributed model where energy can be supplied at or close to the
point of use. This reduces the need for transmission facilities and land dedicated
to energy production. Developed countries are sensitive to conserve the
environment while in pursuit of the faster growth of their economies and
industrial expansion. The industrial growth of the country cannot be
compromised at any cost; and this causes genuine concerns for the conservation
of environment in the midst of all ensuing industrial growth. There are many
developed countries that have been very eco-friendly in their industrial
undertakings, and have made tremendous strides at the front of green industrial
operations, without affecting their profits and other organizational objectives in a
negative way. The marketplace for solar is exploding as more and more
companies are entering for the investment in solar technology and projects.
Government of India (GOI) has brought the solar economy in the main stream.
Jawaharlal Nehru National solar Mission- the flagship project launched in 2010
by GOI. The objective of this mission is to achieve 20 GW of grid connected solar
power and 2GW of off-grid solar power by 2022 and is aimed at reducing the cost
cost of solar energy generation within the country through. Wind load governs
the look of supporting structures of star panels. Due to lack of accurate design
code, most designers typically follow the design procedures recommended by
building codes meant for large sloped roofs. This may lead to conservative
results in some cases and unsafe designs in others cases. Moreover, the dearth
of applicable wind style pointers is additionally swiftness down their wide
applications. Wind load may be fairly determined by playing a series of
experiments on a reduced model-scale solar battery victimization wind testing
facility like the physical phenomenon structure (BLWT). The physical
phenomenon structure testing could be a wide accepted technique, especially
for large structures such as tall buildings at small-scale.

The boundary layer wind tunnel testing guidelines set by American Society of
Civil Engineering (ASCE) requires that the projected area of the model should
be less than 8% of the structure cross sectional space to avoid the blockage
effects on the results. Therefore, an all-out check of a solar battery within the
typical wind tunnels isn't potential because of the blockage restrictions. Large
number of structure studies on single solar battery and arrays were conducted
in structure to made mechanics databases. There are some scale related issues
that require further investigation in wind testing facility e.g. scale effects,
dynamic effects, pressure tap distribution resolution effects. However, testing
small structures in a wind tunnels is not practically possible as they are typically
designed to test tall buildings at a scale of 1:300 to 1:500.

Figure 1: Aerodynamic forces on an inclined flat plate [10]

Implementation of enormous space star arrays is taken into account to be a

necessity. Several style approaches of the supporting structures are given so
as to realize the utmost overall potency. They are loaded mainly by
aerodynamic forces. International laws similarly because the competition
between industries outline that they have to face up to the large hundreds that
result from air velocities over a hundred and twenty km/h. Furthermore, they
must have a life expectancy of more than 20 years. Nowadays the demand for
clean, renewable energy sources is increasing. In order to gather solar energy
effectively, it's necessary to use massive areas of star panels properly aligned
to the sun. The arrangement of solar panels in structure is similar to double sloped
roof trusses, for which the expression for wind pressure is given by
P wind = 0.6 x V2

Wind force=Wind Pressure x Effective area of panel

F wind = P wind x Ae

Ae = Total area of sloped roof

Chapter 2
Literature Review
Mihailidis et al. [1] represented the analysis of two different design approaches
of solar panel support structures.

 Fixed support structure design.

 Adjustable support structure design.

They did analysis according to the following steps.

1) Load calculation,

2) Analysis of the structure, which includes the creation of a Finite element model
using ANSA as pre-processor. Loads calculated within the initiative are
applied to the model.

3) Identification of the structure critical points. According to the results weak

points are redesigned in order to increase the end.

Figure 3: Stress in fixed design [1]

Jinxin Cao et al. [2] performed a wind tunnel experiment to evaluate wind loads
on solar panels mounted on flat roofs. In order to search out module force
characteristics at totally different locations on the roof they use solar battery
that were invented with pressure faucets. They consider two different cases

1. single array

2. multi-array and find mean and peak module force co-efficient.

They also find effect of mean module force co-efficient on design parameter of
solar panel. They found effect of mean module force co-efficient on design
parameters (tilt angle, height) of solar panel. The results show module force
coefficient for single array cases is larger than multi array cases.

Fig 4. Solar panels without parapet [2]

Chih-Kuang Lin et al. [3] use FEA approach to find the effects of self-weight
and wind loads on structural deformation and misalignment of solar radiation.
They contemplate distribution of stress and deformation with wind speed
seven and twelve with varied processing directions as well as gravity. The
result shows that this CAE technique is applicable for coming up with a
reliable and economical trailing electrical phenomenon system. Highly
stressed regions ar settled at bushing and needle bearing von-mises criterion
there's no structural failure for given electrical phenomenon system. The result
also indicate displacement and angular displacement increase with an
elevation angle for wind directions at 00,300 and 600 but it will started
decrease with wind direction of 1200,1500 and 1800

AlyMousaadAly et al. [4] built testing models of large civil engineering

structures at geometric scale 1:500 to 1:100. They were manufacturing
Associate in Nursing mechanics model of solar battery subjected to wind load
and mounted on ground. Testing can be carried out experimentally (in
boundary layer wind tunnel) and numerically (by computational fluid
dynamics) at different geometric scale. The result shows that for very small
size solar panels are having different mean loads as they are located very close
to ground.

Alex Mathew et. al. [5] Worked on style and stability analysis of solar battery
support structure created out from soft-cast steel. They conducted this work
as a vicinity of project of Mahindra Reva Ltd. Named as “solar 2 car”. The
result shows that the solar panel support structure can able to sustain a wind
load with velocity 55 km/hr. They calculated required amount of weight to
withstand wind load for different wind zones without any holding
arrangements and then after optimization can be done for easy assembly,
dismantle and transportation

Georgeta Vasies et al. [6] given Numerical simulations for analysis of wind
action on star panels settled on flat roofs with and while not parapets.
Numerical simulations are performed in ANSYS CFX, for an incidence wind
angle of 45°.they are watching that Oblique direction of wind generating high
intensity of uplift forces in the corner areas of the flat roof, forces which bring
an additional load on support systems of solar panels. Presence of the parapet
facilitate mitigate the wind hundreds, and average pressure is up to 18.6%
lower that for solar panels placed on flat roof without parapet.
Girma T. Bitsuamlaka et al. [7] presented the aerodynamic features of ground-
mounted solar panels under atmospheric boundary layer. They did four
different test cases to determine the wind effects on stand-alone ground
mounted solar panels differing from one another by wind angle of attack and
number of panels. They verified that there is reduction in wind loads on the
adjacent solar panel when they are arranged in tandem. After that they were
conclude that „the solar panels experienced the highest overall wind loads for
wind angle of attack.

Vijay B. Sarode et.al. [8] delineated the planning and improvement of solar
battery support structure that is formed up form steel. They proposed to
introduce latest FEA knowledge and concepts to work on this sector to provide
a detail optimized design. So, they had created the model in PRO-E software.
They were doing after creating model of support structure they did analysis of
structure by choosing different cross section and they got best structural
design by optimization

Fig 5: PRO-E model [8]

Fig 6: Deflection with different cross-section [8]

Solar energy represents our largest supply of renewable energy offer.

Effective solar irradiance reaching the earth’s surface ranges from about
0.06kW/m2 at the highest latitudes to 0.25kW/m2 at low latitudes. Fig 7
compares the technically feasible potential of different renewable energy
options using the present conversion efficiencies of available technologies.
Even once evaluated on a regional basis, the technical potential of solar energy
in most regions of the world is many times greater than current total primary
energy consumption in those regions.

Fig 7: Technical potential of renewable energy technologies[11]

Table one presents regional distribution of annual solar power potential in
conjunction with total primary energy demand and total electricity demand in
year 2007. As illustrated within the table, solar energy supply is significantly
greater than demand at the regional as well as global level.

Table 1: Annual technical potential of solar energy and energy demand [11]

Authors have estimated that PV cells installed on 4% of the surface area

of the world’s deserts would produce enough electricity to meet the
worlds current energy consumption. Similarly, EPIA [9] estimates that
just 0.71% of the European land mass, covered with current PV modules,
will meet the continents entire electricity consumption. In several regions
of the globe one km2 of land is enough to get over a hundred twenty-five
gigawatt hours (GWh) of electricity annually through CSP technology. In
China, for instance, 1% (26,300 km2) of its wasteland located in the
northern and western regions, where solar radiation is among the highest
in the country, can generate electricity equivalent to 1,300 GW about
double the country’s total generation capacity projected for year 2020 .In
the United States, an area of 23,418 km2 in the sunnier southwestern part
of the country will match the current generating capability of one,067
GW. By Dec 2010, global installed capacity for PV had reached around 40
GW4 of which 85% grid connected and remaining 15% off-grid (REN21,
2010). This market is presently dominated by crystalline silicon-based PV
cells, which accounted for more than 80% of the market in 2010. The
remainder of the market nearly entirely consists of skinny film
technologies that use cells created by directly depositing a electrical
phenomenon layer on a supporting substrate.

Figure 8: Total Installed Capacity of PV at the Global Level [11]

Two types of PV systems exist in the markets: grid connected or
centralized systems and off-grid or decentralized systems. The recent
trend is powerful growth in centralized PV development with
installations that ar over two hundred kilowatts, operating as centralized
power plants. The leading markets for these applications include
Germany, Italy, Spain and the United States. After exhibiting poor growth
for variety of years, annual installations within the Spanish market have
full-grown from concerning four.8 MW in 2000 to roughly 950 MW at the
end of 2007 before dropping to 17 MW in 2009 and bouncing back to
around 370 MW in 2010. The off-grid applications (e.g., solar home
systems) kicked off an earlier wave of PV commercialization in the 1970s,
but in recent years, this market has been overtaken by grid connected
systems. While grid-connected systems dominate in the OECD countries,
developing country markets, led by India and China, presently favour off-
grid systems. This trend could be a reflection of their large rural
populations, with developing countries adopting an approach to solar PV
that emphasizes PV to fulfil basic demands for electricity that are unmet
by the conventional grid.
Chapter 3
Research Gap and Objectives
3.1 Research Gap
The existing researches have focussed their work on analysis of solar panel
support structures or tracker using calculated (analytical) wind load effect. But
investigation on real time wind flow with varying profile is not investigated.

3.2 Objectives
The objective of this project is to analyse the effect of real time wind flow of
varying magnitudes on torque generated and pressure developed on solar panels.
The analysis is conducted using techniques of Computational Fluid Dynamics

1> CAD model of solar panel support using Creo 2.0 design software.
2> CFD analysis using ANSYS CFX software on different angle of inclination
of solar panels.
3> CFD analysis using ANSYS CFX software on at different air speed
4> Effect of different turbulence models on pressure developed and torque
5> Suggesting design changes of support structure with respect to height,
width etc.
6> Comparative studies on the basis on power, torque and other fluid flow
Chapter 4
Research Methodology
3.1 Methodology Flow Chart
In this research solar panel support structure is modelled using CAD package and analysed
using ANSYS CFX.

Need of research

Problem identification

Literature review

CAD modelling of solar panel

support structure.

Assembly module

Analysis (ANSYS CFX) Mesh module

Requesting data output

Applying Boundary
Pressure plot and velocity plot and Conditions
torque determination
Solve / Compute According
to Input Data
3.2 Methodology Steps
The methodology involved consists of following steps

1 CAD Modelling
The CAD model of solar panel support structure is developed using Creo 2.0
software which is sketch based, feature based, parametric 3d modelling software
developed by PTC and has properties of parent child relationship and
bidirectional associativity. The CAD model is developed using extrude, revolve,
sweep and pattern tool. This CAD model is saved and converted into. iges format
to be exported in ANSYS software.

2 Importing CAD MODELING

The CAD model developed in Creo is imported in ANSYS design modeler. Here
it is checked for geometric errors like hard edges, hard angles and other data

3 Enclosure
The enclosure is modelled to define computational domain enclosing this turbine.
Inlet outlet and other boundary conditions are defined using this enclosure. The
enclosure volume is defined using appropriate dimensions.

4 Meshing
The model is meshed using tetrahedral elements of fine sizing and curvature size
function. The relevance center is set to medium, span angle canter set to fine,
smoothing set to medium.

5 Loads and Boundary Condition

Domain is defined as fluid with isothermal energy condition and reference
pressure set to 1 atm. Standard k-epsilon turbulence model is set for analysis
which is 2 equation model and helps in fast computation and useful in prediction
of simpler fluid flows. Appropriate inlet and outlet boundary conditions are
defined using 2 inlet velocities i.e. 5m/s and 10m/s.

6 Solver settings
Solver settings are defined using RMS residual values set to 1e-4 and iterations
to 200, advection scheme high resolution upwind, turbulence numeric set to 1 st
order, length scale option to conservative.

3.3 Expected Outcomes

The expected outcomes of the project after running CFD simulations are as

1> Pressure contour plot

2> Velocity contour plots
3> Torque determination
4> Power generation
5> Streamlines
1. A, Mihailidis, K. Panagiotidis, K. Agouridas ‘ANALYSIS OF SOLAR PANEL SUPPORT
STRUCTURES’ 3rd ANSA &μETA International Conference. 2011

2. Jinxin Cao, Akihito Yoshida, ProshitKumarSaha, Yukio Tamura ‘Wind loading characteristics of
solar arrays mounted on flat roofs’ Journal of Wind Engineering and Industrial Aerodynamics. Vol.-
123 [pp: 214-225] 2013.

3. Chih-Kuang Lin, Chen-Yu Dai, JiunnChi Wu ‘Analysis of structural deformation and

deformationinduced solar radiation misalignment in a tracking photovoltaic system’ Renewable Energy
vol.-59 [pp: 65-74] 2013.

4. Aly Mousaad Aly, Girma Bitsuamlak ‘Aerodynamics of ground-mounted solar panels’ Test model
scale effects‟ Journal of Wind Engineering and Industrial Aerodynamicsvol-123 [pp: 250-260] 2013.

5. Alex Mathew, B. Biju, Neel Mathews, VamsiPathapadu ’Design and Stability Analysis of Solar Panel
Supporting Structure Subjected to Wind Force’ International Journal of Engineering Research &
Technology (IJERT), vol.2, issue- 12, ISSN: 2278-0181 [pp: 559565] 2013.

6. Georgetavăsieş*, elenaaxinte and elenacarmenteleman ‘numerical simulation of wind action on a

solar panels array for different wind directions’ buletinul institutului politehnic din iaşi Publicat de
UniversitateaTehnică Gheorghe Asachi” din IaşiTomul LIX (LXIII), Fasc. 4, 2013.

7. Girma T. Bitsuamlak, Agerneh K. Dagnew, James Erwin ‘Evaluation of wind loads on solar panel
modules using CFD’ The Fifth International Symposium on Computational Wind Engineering. The
Fifth International Symposium on Computational Wind Engineering (CWE2010) Chapel Hill, North
Carolina, USA May 23-27, 2010.

8. Vijay B. Sarode, Prof. Prashant.N. Ulhe ‘DESIGN & OPTIMIZATION OF STEEL STRUCTURE
FOR SOLAR ELECTRICAL PANEL’ International Journal of Research in Advent TechnologyE-
ISSN: 2321–9637Volume 2, Issue 1, [pp: 388-394] January 2014.

9. EPIA/Greenpeace (2008). Solar Generation V – 2008. Greenpeace and European Photovoltaic

Industry Association.

10. Aly Mousaad, Girma Bitsumulak “Aerodynamics of Ground Mounted Solar Panels: Test Model
Scale Effects” Advances in Civil, Environmental, and Materials Research (ACEM’ 12)
11. Govinda R. Timilsina, Lado Kurdgelashvili “ Solar Energy: Markets, Economics and Policies”
Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 16(2012) 449-465