Novel approaches to improving domestic solar panel energy yields in Sub-Sahara Africa
This thesis contains innovations that could help homesteads in sub-Sahara Africa (SSA) to ‘harvest’ more energy from flat solar energy collection surfaces. The thesis makes the assumption that universal resolution of energy poverty is a long term issue – and may not realistically be achieved using the traditional electrification route of: Fossil fuel/Hydro potential → electricity → transmission/distribution → paid for/free usage. Using a combination of literature search, Transient System Simulation (TRNSYS) modelling and experimental validation, the thesis notes the bi-hemispherical tropical location of most of the region and the abundant solar resource. It therefore advocates extensive use of the resource at home level for both electricity generation, and fluid heating/preheating purposes. Using mathematical models, the thesis critically examines relationships among energy incidence, transformation and yield from a flat surface for both Photovoltaic (PV) and Solar Thermal (ST) usage. It suggests the first set of innovations for the region: the two azimuths installations. The second set uses TRNSYS and Operations Research (OR) modelling to optimise selection of PV equipment meeting a starter–home’s energy loads throughout the region. Recommendations for both sets of innovations are presented in the form of colour coded maps. The third innovation in the thesis is the patented gravity driven, hydro-mechanical solar tracker, a novel solar tracking device in three different operation and control modes. In summary, one patent, 4 journal papers and 5 peer-reviewed international conference papers comprise the work.
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