Adaptation of a photovoltaic energy balance model for rooftop applications

Jannik Heusinger, Ashley M. Broadbent, E. Scott Krayenhoff, Stephan Weber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


In this study we adapted and evaluated the utility-scale photovoltaic energy balance model UCRC-Solar for rooftop scenarios. The most important modification is related to the sensible heat exchange. Different modifications are tested and evaluated against measured surface temperatures and power production of a rooftop photovoltaic (PV) module on a tilted roof in Braunschweig, Germany. Strong agreement with an RMSE of 2.7 K and 4 W, respectively, for highly varying meteorological conditions, is achieved by assuming boundary layer development over the PV modules which modulates their convective heat exchange with the atmosphere. The model error is related to the wind direction and turbulent kinetic energy. A higher model error is found for wind directions corresponding to upwind built structures with larger relative roughness. We deem the adapted model, UCRC-Solarroof to be suitable to calculate module temperatures and sensible heat fluxes of individual modules as well as the average of PV arrays on tilted roofs for different roof sizes. UCRC-Solarroof is applied to compare module temperatures, sensible heat fluxes and power production from urban, rooftop PV arrays to rural, ground-based modules. The main causal factor for elevated module temperature on rooftop PV modules relative to their rural, utility-scale counterparts is the smaller sensible heat flux at the lower side of the rooftop PV modules as a result of their proximity to the roof. UCRC-Solarroof has the potential to be integrated in micro-to macroscale meteorological and climate models as well as building energy simulation tools.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number107628
JournalBuilding and Environment
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • PV module temperature
  • Power generation
  • Renewable energy
  • Rooftop PV
  • Thermal characteristics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Building and Construction


Dive into the research topics of 'Adaptation of a photovoltaic energy balance model for rooftop applications'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this