Economic and environmental evaluation of photovoltaic noise barriers
Concerns over the growth in energy use and environmental impacts of energy production have increased the interest in the potential of photovoltaic electricity generation. This study assesses photovoltaic systems integrated into noise barriers along highways in Ontario. Firstly, a methodology to simulate solar radiation on tilted surfaces is reviewed. Measured hourly solar radiation data is used to simulate photovoltaic electricity generation at several orientations. The solar potential contribution to meet Guelph electricity demand at peak hours is determined. Hourly Ontario's wholesale market prices are combined with photovoltaic electricity generation for economic evaluation. Noise barriers costs are integrated for assessment of photovoltaic systems on noise barriers. Finally, energy payback time and CO2 emissions for photovoltaic systems are determined based on the emissions of the provincial mix of electricity generation. This research demonstrates an application of solar and economic models to evaluate performance and costs of photovoltaic systems. Maximum annual solar irradiation of 1502 kWh/m2/year at tilt 36° south oriented surface is calculated. At electricity peak demand time, the availability of solar resource is 57% of its peak level. The photovoltaic electricity cost ranges from C$0.30/kWh to C$1.25/kWh depending on photovoltaic on highway noise barrier configuration. CO2 emissions of photovoltaic on noise barriers vary from 0.041 tCO2/MWh to 0.058 tCO2/MWh.