Analyzing the interactions between photovoltaic system and its ambient environment using CFD techniques: A review


Since the utilization of renewable energy is crucial to achieve carbon neutrality, the global installation of photovoltaic (PV) devices has been growing exponentially in the past decade. As outdoor devices, PV will interact with the ambient environment, leading to impacts on power generation efficiency, system structure safety, and the surrounding microclimate. To investigate the various interactions between PV and its ambient environment, simulation with Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) is a frequently employed approach. Given the rapid increase of studies using CFD to investigate PV-environment interactions, this study provides a comprehensive review of the research reported in journal publications on this topic within the last decade, aiming to answer two questions: (1) Which interactions can be simulated using CFD? (2) How to simulate those interactions using CFD? A total of 69 studies were surveyed and they were categorized into six research subjects based on various interactions. According to the results, most studies applied CFD for simulations regarding PV thermal characteristics, PV cooling, and dust deposition & mitigation, whereas less were for investigating airflow & ventilation, wind loading, and microclimate. Practices of CFD setups were summarized for different steps of a simulation procedure. It was found that component scale, PV module geometry, three-dimensional modelling, Reynolds-averaged Navier-Stokes type, and SST k-ω turbulence model are generally favored in simulations. Future research may focus on developing simplified models, boundary conditions, and parameterization methods for simulations in urban-scale and involving more complex physical phenomena.

Energy and Buildings