Solar-tracking photovoltaic arrays are susceptible to aeroelastic fluttering during high-wind events. This dynamic fluttering behavior can grow in amplitude until the panels enter an unstable mode known as torsional galloping which can lead to panel failure or total array destruction. To better understand the physics of the torsional galloping phenomenon and to inform the discussion around panel design and recommended panel stow positions during high wind events, a fluid-structure interaction solver composed of a simulated atmospheric boundary layer with simplified panel structural responses was designed. The simulation choices and features of this solver were informed by the geometry and physical properties of an experimental panel array known to exhibit torsional galloping behavior during hind-wind events. These simulations revealed that the torsional galloping instability is driven by a combination of cyclic vortex shedding from the sun-facing side of the panel and the elastic properties of the torque tube linking the panel assemblies. Testing different stow angles across a range of wind speeds indicates that panels are generally more stable when stowed at negative angles where the leading edge is closer to the ground, hypothesized to be due to ground-blocking effects. These results are supplemented by a discussion of stability trends noted during testing and possible implications when considering multi-row array interactions.
This work was authored by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, operated by Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC, for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) under Contract No. DE-AC36–08GO28308. Funding provided as part of DuraMAT funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Solar Energy Technologies Office, Agreement No. 32509. The views expressed in the article do not necessarily represent the views of the DOE or the U.S. Government. The U.S. Government retains and the publisher, by accepting the article for publication, acknowledges that the U.S. Government retains a nonexclusive, paid-up, irrevocable, worldwide license to publish or reproduce the published form of this work, or allow others to do so, for U.S. Government purposes. The research was performed using computational resources sponsored by the Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and located at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
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