Design and optimisation of the architecture and the orientation of utility-scale photovoltaic power plants
Tutor / directorGomis Bellmunt, Oriol
Document typeMaster thesis
Rights accessOpen Access
The Spanish and European photovoltaic markets are set for a revival: massive GW deployments are expected in the coming years. Large utility-scale PV will increasingly take a role as baseload power plants, displacing dirtier sources of energy. PV project developers will need to optimise their design practices so as to achieve the most cost-effective solutions possible. For all these reasons, the present work is focused on the development of utility-scale PV plants in the Spanish context. A MATLAB based programme to simulate PV plants (developed by a former MSc Thesis student) has been improved and updated with new models, databases and performance indicators. Three main new models have been added to the original code: tracking system model, self-shading model and battery model. The updated MATLAB programme has been used to simulate a 100 MWp PV plant in Seville, Spain. Several relevant topics have been studied: the selection between string and central inverters and their DC/AC ratio; the effect of including trackers; the effect of self-shading losses on land-use; and the inclusion of a battery to provide flat-output response. Central inverters are found to be still more cost-effective, but string inverters follow the pace. DC/AC inverter ratios are concluded to be a fundamental designing choice impacting both performance and cost. Tracker devices are found to be highly competitive solutions (depending on the location), but a more careful study on land-use will be required in future works. A compromise in performance have been found between self-shading losses and land-use: reducing land-use reduces considerably the energy yield, thus row spacing and module configuration are fundamental design choices. Batteries providing services to the grid will play a key role in renewable energy integration, such as the flat-output response studied. However, further battery cost reductions or government incentives are required to make these projects more profitable. The PV industry and policy regulators must work together to ensure a sustainable development of the European and Spanish utility-scale PV sectors, with PV developers enhancing and refining their design best practices.
DegreeMÀSTER UNIVERSITARI EN ENGINYERIA INDUSTRIAL (Pla 2014)