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Optimal orientation angles for maximizing energy yield for solar PV in Saudi Arabia

Al Garni, Hassan Z., Awasthi, Anjali, Wright, David
Renewable energy 2019 v.133 pp. 538-550
cities, climate, conservation areas, electric power, energy, labor, latitude, light intensity, power lines, power plants, roads, solar energy, temperature, topography, wages and remuneration, Saudi Arabia
This paper uses research-quality, ground measurements of irradiance and temperature that are accurate to ±2% to estimate the electric energy yield of fixed solar modules for utility-scale solar power plants at 18 sites in Saudi Arabia. The calculation is performed for a range of tilt and azimuth angles and the orientation that gives the optimum annual energy yield is determined. A detailed analysis is presented for Riyadh including the impact of non-optimal tilt and azimuth angles on annual energy yield. It is also found that energy yield in March and October are higher than in April and September, due to milder operating temperatures of the modules. A similar optimization of tilt and azimuth is performed each month separately. Adjusting the orientation each month increases energy yield by 4.01% compared to the annual optimum, but requires considerable labour cost. Further analysis shows that an increase in energy yield of 3.63% can be obtained by adjusting the orientation at five selected times during the year, thus significantly reducing the labour requirement. The optimal orientation and corresponding energy yield for all 18 sites is combined with a site suitability analysis taking into account climate, topography and proximity to roads, transmission lines and protected areas. Six sites are selected as having high suitability and high energy yield: Albaha, Arar, Hail, Riyadh, Tabuk and Taif. For these cities the optimal tilt is only slightly higher than the latitude, however the optimum azimuth is from 20° to 53° west of south due to an asymmetrical daily irradiance profile.