Experimental Testing of a Floating Solar Energy Installation
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A prototype of Ocean Suns concept, a floating solar energy installation, has been built. The prototype has been tested in different wave conditions to investigate how the solar panels on the installation behaves, and to determine the stress conditions and the deformation of the panels. It has been shown that it is applicable to do model scale experimental hydrodynamic tests of this kind of structure. The stress in the solar panels showed a distinct correlation with the steepness of the waves the prototype was exposed to. The stress showed little correlation with the curvature of the waves relative to the length of the solar panels. The maximum values of stress in the panels were caused by special effects made by the prototype itself, when waves with certain wave parameters were applied to the prototype. Sudden changes in the wave motion of the prototype, in terms of a steep wave, showed to be the worst wave condition, which induced the highest stress in the solar panels. The maximum up-scaled stress value for the steepest wave was approximately 65% of the bending stress limit calculated from the listed wind load limit for the proposed solar panel Trina Solar DUOMAX. For the less steep waves, all the values were below 15% of this limit. However, there is an uncertainty with the magnitude of the stress values because of a difference in structural rigidity in the scaled panel and the full-scale panel. There are found variations in which area on the prototype that is exposed to the highest wave load, however, these are small variations, and it is therefore recommended to use solar panels with the same structural rigidity on the whole installation.