A solar module will receive the most solar radiation and produce the greatest amount of power if it faces directly to the sun; however, the sun moves throughout the day and the year.
Daily movement: Each day, the sun moves from the east, where it rises, to the west, where it sets. The compass position of the sun is known as its ‘azimuth’ and is measured in degrees.
There are three main options for maximizing the amount of direct solar radiation received by a solar module (PV array):
Fixing the array in the optimal tilt and orientation,
Using a manual tilting frame, and
Using a single or dual-axis tracker that follows the sun.
A solar array produces maximum power if it faces the sun directly.
To make an informed decision about the optimal orientation and tilt of an array, it’s vital that you understand the movement of the sun throughout the day and year.
Suppose your water pumping requirement has a seasonal or daily preference. In that case, if more water is needed in summer or winter or at the start or the end of the day, the orientation and tilt of the array should be determined to suit that preference.
A fixed array is the cheapest mounting option. For optimum power output, the array should be south facing and tilted at an angle equal to the site’s latitude.
A manual tilt framing system is a cost-effective option for maximizing power output. The array can be tilted monthly or every couple of months, according to the required scheduling.
A solar PV array with a single or dual-axis tracking system is the most expensive option and requires the most maintenance. Still, it can deliver optimal pumping performance and overall power output.
A PV system with multiple arrays with different fixed tilts and orientations can also be implemented. In such cases, the devices controlling the PV system’s output must be fit to maximize power. These devices could be DC optimizers, micro-inverters (on each panel), inverters with multiple maximum point trackers, or even multiple inverters (for each orientation).