Limitations in solar module azimuth and tilt angles in building integrated photovoltaics at low latitude tropical sites in Brazil

Ísis Portolan dos Santos, Ricardo Rüther
Renewable Energy

Photovoltaic (PV) generation depends directly on the amount of radiation received by solar modules at a given temperature, and annual irradiation varies according to site location and PV array position. In this paper, the limitations and the solar irradiation levels received by building surfaces in different positions (with azimuth and tilt angle variation) in capital cities in Brazil are shown, making use of the Brazilian global horizontal solar irradiation data provided by the SWERA (Solar and Wind Energy Resource Assessment) project. These data were processed to generate figures on the irradiation at various PV module orientations and slopes for each city, which show the relative radiation levels received on specific azimuth and tilt angles in relation to the ideal position. Results were validated using four real and operating PV systems. In general, variations in azimuth or slope did not cause large annual irradiation losses up to around 20° tilt angles. This shows to PV system planners that under these fairly flexible conditions it is possible to install PV on any orientation, keeping high levels of annual irradiation, and that limitations in orientation and tilt can be relatively low. It also allows a quick analysis of PV retrofit in building-applied photovoltaics (BAPV), when seeking the best building surfaces to incorporate PV.