Many variables affect the amount of solar energy output generated by your photovoltaic system. Though some are out of your control, knowing what these factors are before scheduling your facility’s solar panel installation can help you combat those that you can change.
New PV Technology in 2024
Research shows that energy projects were up 96% among consumers in 2023 and that growth is expected to continue well into 2024. One of the major reasons for the uptick has to do with newer PV technology and the enhanced capabilities of modern solar installations.
Several factors are expected to influence solar panel installation in 2024 that weren’t as significant a few years ago. These include:
Modern solar panels are much more efficient than their older counterparts, meaning they convert a larger portion of sunlight into usable energy. This makes solar panels a more attractive option for homeowners and businesses.
Improved Battery Technology
Advancements in battery technology have made it easier and more affordable to store excess solar energy, which can be used during periods of peak demand or when sunlight is unavailable. This has made solar energy a more viable option for off-grid applications.
Microinverters are replacing string inverters in many installations. These smaller, individual inverters are attached to each solar panel, allowing for better performance monitoring and optimization. Additionally, if one panel is shaded, the others can continue to operate independently.
The integration of smart technologies, like solar monitoring systems and smart building automation, will allow for greater control and optimization of solar energy usage in 2024.
The more sunshine, the better! Latitude matters; your proximity to the equator affects the power generated by your system. Solar panels generate more electricity the closer you are to the equator.
According to research published in 2023, the top 15 cities with the most net-new solar panels installed are:
Top 15 “Solar” Cities in the U.S.
- San Diego, California
- Los Angeles, California
- Austin, Texas
- Palm Springs, California
- San Francisco, California
- Las Vegas, Nevada
- Phoenix, Arizona
- Orlando, Florida
- San Antonio, Texas
- Tampa, Florida
- Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas
- Denver, Colorado
- Salt Lake City, Utah
- Washington, D.C.
- Sacramento, California
Fog, clouds, rain, snow, and haze can all majorly impact the energy output of your solar energy system affecting the amount of sunlight that reaches your panels. As a result, the amount of energy generated can be reduced. One way to combat this factor is to ensure your system has a battery bank which can save excess energy produced on clear and sunny days.
The time of day is directly correlated to the amount of solar energy produced. Although it will still produce power in the morning and late afternoon; solar energy is at its peak at noon. Summer days are longer which will offer more energy generation than shorter winter days.
Orientation of the Azimuth Angle
In the U.S., your roof ideally should face south, but a quality design can often compensate for other directions. The Azimuth angle is the compass direction from which the sunlight is coming and refers to the level of deviation from the southerly orientation. The azimuth angle varies throughout the day and varies with the latitude and time of year. The smaller it is, the higher the efficiency of the solar panel generation.
Orientation of the Tilt
Orientation of the tilt for solar panel installation is an important element to know. To get the most from solar panels, you need to point them in the direction that captures the most sun…capturing the most energy. Maximum power comes when they are perpendicular to the sun’s rays. Typically, fixed (non-adjustable) PV arrays should be tilted toward the sun’s “average” elevation—equal to the latitude of the array’s location—to capture the most year-round solar energy.
Shading elements such as chimneys, ventilators, construction, etc should be taken into consideration. Inevitably, shading reduces the performance of a solar panel’s energy generation; even if just a small section of the panels is shaded, the energy generation output will be reduced. Shading intervals between module rows should be considered so they do not throw a shadow on each other. Trees and neighboring buildings can affect the performance of solar panel energy generation when they cast shadows (one reason why it is so popular to place solar panels on rooftops).
It is important to note that KMB can complete a production forecast modeling for the system which accounts for the system tilt, azimuth, design, shading, and more to accurately project the production and financial return from the project.
Pollution and dirt can both limit the amount of solar energy generation. Urban air pollution, smoke from forest fires, and airborne ash from volcanic activity can reduce solar resources by increasing the scattering and absorption of solar radiation. This is becoming a bigger issue, and it’s expected to influence solar production output in 2024.
Since solar panels harvest light, it’s a give-in that anything that obscures light’s passage, like dirt, could affect the energy output. Solar panels are generally self-cleaning. In most cases, you can let Mother Nature do her work and let the rain clean the modules for you. But over time, grime and bird feces can build up. It doesn’t need to cover an entire panel to have an effect.
Understanding the solar panel installation factors that affect the amount of solar energy output generated by your system is important for your bottom line. Proper planning and smart design will help you get the most out of your PV system and improve your rate of return.
At KMB Design Group, our solar engineers will give you a full analysis and let you know how much energy can be drawn with considerations such as location, obstructions, and orientations. We will also provide you with information on the latest PV technologies and the best designs that will give you maximum output.
KMB Design Group is at the forefront of the escalating solar industry and is considered a leading consulting firm in the renewable energy field providing photovoltaic design and engineering services. Licensed in 49 states, we have the ability to work nationally without limitations.