NSERC Industrial Research Chair in the Industrialization of Building Construction

Solar PV Systems

Integrating Solar PV Systems into Residential Buildings in Cold-Climate Regions

Post Doc: Dr. Yang Li

Time Period: October 2014 onwards

Summary: Solar Photovoltaic (PV) panels as one type of renewable energy application in residential houses have been adopted by home builders as the responsible sustainability practices. Not only can the positive environmental impacts be achieved by replacing fossil fuels to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emission, but also the utilization of the energy derived from natural resources can improve our energy security and help our economy in terms of new jobs. The cost-effective design of the solar PV system in housing has become a critical issue in speeding the deployment of renewable solar energy in residential sector, and the Electric Energy Consumption (EEC) in residential houses is a key factor for industrial companies in designing the proper size of such a system. To avoid insufficient or oversized capacity design, the performance of solar PV system needs to be evaluated, and the EEC in the houses needs to be predicted.

This study combines on-site home energy measurements, numerical simulation, and a comprehensive review of the latest solar technology applications in industry. First, the electricity loads in different types of housing will be investigated. One hundred and fifty homes with different building characteristics, including townhouses, semi-detached, and detached homes will be selected in which the electricity load is recorded at one-minute intervals. These measurements will monitor the energy usage in each branch of electricity circuits in the homes, including heating/cooling, ventilation, and electrical appliances. The correlation of the electricity loads to the house design parameters and occupants' behaviors will be developed. Second, the performance of the solar PV panels under the local solar and climatic conditions will be evaluated. The PV panels’ capacity and performance factor will be measured on site. The numerical simulations of PV panel performance in various software environments will be compared against the experimental measurements, and error analysis of the simulation will be performed. To satisfy the practical engineering requirements, a design tool by which to determine the optimal size and capacity both of solar PV panels and of the energy storage systems will be developed.

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