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How to define your layout

Curious about the layout configuration options offered by pvDesign? In this article you will learn how to influence the placement of structures in your PV plant.

Introduction

As you may know, one of the key features of pvDesign is that it offers optimized layout solutions for your PV plant designs. Our layout algorithm poses an automated, iterative and extremely fast alternative to the traditional design process.

In this article, we will go over the guidelines that you, as a user, can give the software to achieve your goal layout. Let's uncover some of the magic behind the layout algorithm! 

Electrical tab

First, let's tackle the inputs of interest that appear in the Electrical tab. These are found under the sections Type of Layout and Electrical Configuration.

Type of Layout

Currently in pvDesign we can select an adaptive design layout. We define adaptive block design in this way.

  • Adaptive Design - small blocks of structures will be installed.
    • The size of the block can be from 1x1 onwards. In other words, the block can consist of a single structure. 
    • A smaller block allows for a more fitted design. To adapt your design to the perimeter of your site as much as possible, go small. This will help maximize the installed capacity.


Additionally, we are working on implementing a second option for the layout of the system, regular block design. This feature is a work in progress, and once completed will vary in comparison to the way it was previously handled within the software. We define regular block design in this way.

  • Regular Blocks - big blocks of structures will be installed.
    • In order to minimize the cable lengths, the shape of the block will be as square as possible.
    • All blocks will showcase the same electrical interconnection scheme, leading to a repetitive design electrically and civil-wise. 
    • Structures that are part of the same block are interconnected to the same power station. The number of structures in a regular block is determined by the number of inverters included in a power station. 
    • This option will lead to consistent design throughout your site as all blocks will be more or less equal. A regular block design is interesting if the available area is large and square. For irregular perimeters,  it may not maximize the installed capacity.

Electrical Configuration

When using a central inverter, the next input is to determine the strings per box. pvDesign will generate a value range and from this range, you can select the maximum number of strings per collector system. This value range will be determined based on the characteristics of the structure in use as well as the defined value of strings/structure in the equipment tab. 

The value chosen here is the maximum number of strings per collector system. In order to achieve an exact DC/AC ratio, other lower values of strings per collector system may also be used.

Keep in mind that changes made to design parameters that relate to the electrical configuration of the system can cause this range of values to change. 

Why can't I select the block size independently of the other electrical parameters?

pvDesign uses the characteristics of the chosen equipment along with the desired DC/AC ratio and preferred strings/box to determine the block sizes within the plant. This is done to optimize the use of space and meet the electrical requirements specified by the user.

Layout tab

You can preview the layout of your PV plant by going to the Layout tab at any point during the design process.

For fixed structures, the layout will look like this, with the structures oriented E-W:

For single-axis trackers, the layout will look like this with structures oriented N-S:

If a linked row tracker has been selected in the equipment tab, you are able to define the number of structures per linked row tracker. In the layout tab, the software will define blocks according to the chosen value and update the layout accordingly. For instance, in the picture below there are 4 structures per linked row tracker. Choosing a large value can cause more space to be unfilled. 

Civil tab

For more options regarding structure placement and disposition, go to the Civil tab and check our article How to define the civil parameters of your site.

Future developments

At RatedPower, we aim to fulfill our client's needs, and to do this we are constantly updating our software and improving the features that we have. Stay tuned to our social media platforms to be up to date on the new features!


For any other questions or for more information regarding the bifacial simulation, you can contact us at the following email: support@ratedpower.com