Vertical space bears great potential of solar energy especially for congested urban areas, where photovoltaic (PV) windows in high-rise buildings can contribute to both power generation and daylight harvest. Previous studies on sun-tracking PV windows strayed into the trade-off between tracking performance and mutual shading, failing to achieve the maximum energy generation. Here we first build integrated models which couple the performance of sun-tracking PV windows to the rotation angles. Secondly, one-degree-of-freedom (DOF) and two-DOF sun tracking are mathematically proven to be not able to gain either maximum power generation or non-glare daylighting under reasonable assumptions. Then we derive the optimum rotation angles of the variable-pivot-three-degree-of-freedom (VP-3-DOF) sun-tracking elements and demonstrate that the optimum VP-3-DOF sun tracking can achieve the aforementioned goals. When the restriction of the proposed model is relaxed, the same performance can be achieved by the optimum one-DOF sun tracking with extended PV slats and particular design of cell layout, requiring less complicated mechanical structures. Simulation results of nine global cities show that the annual energy generation and average module efficiency are improved respectively by 27.40% and 19.17% via the optimum VP-3-DOF sun tracking over the conventional perpendicular sun tracking. The proposed optimum sun-tracking methods also reveal better protection against sun glare. The optimum VP-3-DOF sun tracking is also demonstrated to be applicable to horizontal PV windows, as those applied in the sun roof of a glass greenhouse.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1454-1472
Number of pages19
JournalApplied Energy
Publication statusPublished - 2018

    Research areas

  • photovoltaics, partial shading effects, sun-tracking methods, BIPV, solar energy

ID: 45784725