East-West Solar Optimal For Customer and Community

The optimal orientation of solar panels is often debated within the industry. While facing panels north can generate the most electricity, the generation is condensed during the hours either side of midday.  An alternative approach is called east-west and involves half the panels facing east and half the panels facing west.

The east-west orientation produces less total electricity than the north facing panels but the generation is more consistent and broader across the day.  A broader, more consistent generation profile can reduce the level of electricity exported to the grid and may support more solar being installed across the community.

Solpod is a provider of rooftop solar arrays for commercial and industrial buildings with large rooftops. Solpod developed the world’s first re-deployable solar system. Solpod’s moveable solar ‘pods’ are designed for large, flat roofs.  On a flat roof, the solar pods unfold to a 10° tilt, and are usually installed in an east-west orientation for optimal energy generation.

Solpod is also piloting smaller solar systems for buildings where the larger solar pods are not suitable.   The Solpod Mini is a concertina rooftop solar array, also with a slightly angled feature, so the rooftop panels face two directions.

Solpod ‘Mini’ Pilot Project: ‘Concertina’ Profile

When the concertina solar panels are installed in an east-west orientation, energy is generated more consistently through the whole day, with a less pronounced peak in the middle of the day.  The energy generated from this system is more evenly distributed, reflecting how customers consume energy.

The energy being generated from an east-west orientated rooftop solar system is slightly less than if it was north facing.  Yet energy production is more evenly distributed and customers benefit from being able to use the energy generated by the panels in the morning and afternoon.

CEO of Solpod, James Larratt, says that: “As Solpod, we promote an east-west orientation as this provides a more consistent generation profile which benefits the customer with more solar generation consumed on site, and also benefiting the broader community by supporting greater solar penetration.”

This position has been supported by recent research from the University of South Australia, customers may be better off having rooftop solar with a West, North West and North East orientation.

There is a discrepancy between peak household energy use and peak energy production. Kirrilie Rowe, researcher from the University of South Australia says: “Solar panels on residential dwellings are typically installed facing the equator to maximise the energy collected, but the power generated by an equator-facing panel peaks at around midday, whereas residential loads typically have peaks in the morning and afternoon.”

Feed-in tariffs are paid to customers for the excess electricity generated.  Many rooftop solar systems producing energy at the same time results in a reduction in feed-in tariffs. Too much electricity generated at peak production times can also cause grid instability.

Rowe worked with Associate Professor Peter Pudney to study the optimal panel orientation for a building with 42 apartments, and 29 individual residential buildings.

The study looked at the patterns of energy consumption and the energy produced by the rooftop solar panels.

“Our analysis uses detailed load data and detailed irradiance data and shows that optimal panel placement for self-consumption is rarely towards the equator,” Rowe says.

Renew Economy reports of the study, that if the household panel size was too small to export, then facing the panel north was best.

However Rowe reports that as the panel area size increases: “It becomes better to face the panels facing north-west to meet the afternoon loads, and if even more panel area is available then panels should be faced north-east and west.”

North-facing rooftop solar panels rarely best for consumers – or for the grid

 

To find out more about Solpod’s moveable and rentable rooftop solar solution, contact info@solpod.com.au or +03 9089 0753.