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Optimization of PV Modules Layout on High-rise Building Skins Using a BIM-based Generative Design Approach


Optimization of PV Modules Layout on High-rise Building Skins Using a BIM-based Generative Design Approach

Salimzadeh, Negar (2021) Optimization of PV Modules Layout on High-rise Building Skins Using a BIM-based Generative Design Approach. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Growing urbanism and the resulting increase of energy demand coupled with depleting fossil energy resources are making the need for renewable energy resources progressively palpable and vital. In addition to reducing carbon dioxide emissions, renewable energy is crucial to improve health and well-being, and provide affordable energy access worldwide.
Photovoltaic (PV) solar energy, as a fast-evolving industry, has become a vital part of the global energy transformation in recent years that can contribute to the development of sustainable cities and the mitigation of global warming. In the urban environment, buildings are central to human activities. Given that buildings currently account for 40% of the global energy consumption, to achieve sustainable urban development, buildings are of particular importance for distributed renewable energy generation, which reduces energy transmission losses. PV panels are able to harvest the solar power and turn it into a clean source of energy. Furthermore, the increasing availability, affordability, and efficiency of PV panels are rendering them an attractive option for the users so that the worldwide use of photovoltaic electricity is growing rapidly by more than 50% a year.
Of different types of buildings in the built environment, high-rise buildings are of particular interest because of their high potentials for harvesting a considerable amount of PV energy on vertical and horizontal surfaces. Nevertheless, this high potential is seldom harnessed mainly because the deployment of PV modules on high-rise buildings requires considering a complex interplay between various factors that affect the installation of PV modules (e.g., neighborhood shadow effect, modules self-shadowing effect, surface-specific PV modules, etc.). This renders the design of PV modules in high-rise buildings a complex optimization problem, one that requires a generative design approach. There are many tools and models, from simple 2D evaluation to more comprehensive and complicated 3D analysis, that can help simulate the solar radiation potential of surfaces of a building. However, the majority of the methods do not discriminate between different types of surfaces of the building and treat the entire envelope as a single surface. In recent years, and with the advent and rising popularity of the Building Information Modeling (BIM) concept, the apparatus for the implementation of such a comprehensive generative design approach is becoming increasingly available. However, to the best of the author’s knowledge, there is currently no framework for the BIM-based generative design of PV modules for high-rise buildings.
Addressing the current issues, this research aims to: (1) Develop a parametric modeling platform for the design of surface-specific PV module layout on the entire skin of buildings, and (2) Develop a BIM-based generative design framework for the design of PV modules layout on high-rise building skins. In this framework, the surface-specific parametric model of PV modules is integrated with an optimization method to find the optimum design of PV modules layout considering the study period, profit margin, harvested PV energy, and cost. This framework will enable designers and investors to apply the generative design paradigm to the use of PV modules on building skin considering the complex interaction between building surface types (e.g., windows, walls, etc.), type of PV module (e.g., opaque, semi-transparent, etc.), their tilt and pan angles, and the financial aspect of the PV system (i.e., revenue vs. cost at different study periods).
The results generated by the elaborate case study demonstrated that the generative design framework is capable of offering more favourable solutions (i.e., either or both of reduced costs and increased energy revenue) compared to baseline scenarios. It is observed that in the majority of the studied scenario, the optimum solutions favored a more consistent orientation of the panels (i.e., consistent pan and tilt angles across all the panels).

Divisions:Concordia University > Gina Cody School of Engineering and Computer Science > Building, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Salimzadeh, Negar
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Program:Civil Engineering
Date:25 July 2021
Thesis Supervisor(s):Hammad, Amin and Vahdatikhaki, Faridaddin
ID Code:988956
Deposited On:29 Nov 2021 16:50
Last Modified:29 Nov 2021 16:50


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