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Analysis of the cloud enhancement phenomenon and its effects on photovoltaic generators based on cloud speed sensor measurements

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Details

Original languageEnglish
Article number043502
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy
Volume12
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Abstract

The irradiance incident on photovoltaic (PV) generators can considerably exceed the expected clear sky irradiance. Due to this phenomenon, called cloud enhancement (CE), the maximum power of the PV generator can exceed the rated power of the inverter connecting the generator to the grid. CE event characteristics and the effects of CE on the electrical operation of PV generators were studied based on measured irradiances and cloud edge velocities. Over eleven months in San Diego, California, the highest measured peak irradiance was 1466 W/m2. In addition, the highest simulated average irradiances for up to 1 MW generators were over 1400 W/m2. The largest lengths for CE events exceeding 1000 W/m2 were multiple kilometers. These results indicate that even large utility-scale PV power plants can be affected significantly by CE events. Moreover, the operation of three PV plants was simulated during around 2400 measured CE events with a detailed spatiotemporal model. The effects of inverter sizing on the operation of the plants were also studied, and the negative impacts of CE on the operation of PV systems were shown to increase with the increasing DC/AC ratio. During the CE events, the energy losses due to power curtailment were from 5% to 50% of the available energy production. While CE affects the operation of the PV plants, these effects were small in terms of aggregate energy since CE events that most strongly impact PV system operation are very rare, meaning that CE does not cause major problems for the operation of PV systems.

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