Spacing between solar panels has little impact on performance, study proves

Sunlight and wind are much more important when it comes to designing a solar farm.

Researchers in China tested how the spacing between rows of solar panels affects the performance of a PV system. They found that increasing row spacing only slightly improves cooling through thermal convection. Key factors like solar irradiance and wind speed are more important for optimal PV system design.

The study, led by the University of Science and Technology of China, showed that excessive row spacing does not significantly cool the panels or increase power output. Lead author Long Shi emphasized that ensuring full sunlight on the panels is crucial, and spacing should mainly prevent shading between rows.

The experiments involved 30 solar panels arranged in three columns and ten rows. They found that minimal row spacing of 0.98 meters prevented shading between 9 AM and 3 PM during the winter solstice. Their data, collected from June to September 2023, indicated that increasing row spacing beyond a certain point does not significantly enhance cooling or efficiency.

The study suggests that larger row spacing is not worth the extra land use. Instead, factors like direct sunlight and wind speed should be prioritized for better system performance. The findings were published in "Applied Energy" and provide a reference for designing PV power plants. Learn more in our article “What is a solar farm and how much money can it make you”.

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