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Title: Radiative Effects of Atmospheric Aerosols and Impacts on Solar Photovoltaic Electricity Generation
Authors: Li, Xiaoyuan
Advisors: Mauzerall, Denise L
Contributors: Civil and Environmental Engineering Department
Keywords: air pollution
atmospheric aerosols
electricity generation
solar photovoltaics
Subjects: Environmental science
Atmospheric sciences
Issue Date: 2018
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Atmospheric aerosols, by scattering and absorbing radiation, perturbs the Earth’s energy balance and reduces the amount of insolation reaching the surface. This dissertation first studies the radiative effects of aerosols by analyzing the internal mixing of various aerosol species. It then examines the aerosol impact on solar PV efficiency and the resulting influence on power systems, including both atmospheric aerosols and deposition of particulate matter (PM) on PV surfaces,. Chapter 2 studies the radiative effects of black carbon (BC), sulfate and organic carbon (OC) internal mixing using a simple radiative transfer model. I find that internal mixing may not result in a positive radiative forcing compared to external mixing, but blocks additional shortwave radiation from the surface, enhancing the surface dimming effect. Chapter 3 estimates the impact of atmospheric aerosol attenuation on solar PV resources in China using a PV performance model with satellite-derived long-term surface irradiance data. I find that, in Eastern China, annual average reductions of solar resources due to aerosols are more than 20%, with comparable impacts to clouds in winter. Improving air quality in China would increase efficiency of solar PV generation. As a positive feedback, increased PV efficiency and deployment would further reduce air pollutant emissions too. Chapter 4 further quantifies the total aerosol impact on PV efficiency globally, including both atmospheric aerosols and the deposition of PM on PV surfaces. I find that, if panels are uncleaned and soiling is only removed by precipitation, deposition of PM accounts for more than two-thirds of the total aerosol impact in most regions. Cleaning the panels, even every few months, would largely increase PV efficiency in resource-abundant regions. Chapter 5 takes a further step to evaluate the impact of PV generation reduction due to aerosols on a projected 2030 power system in China with 400GW of PV. I find that aerosols reduce PV generation by 22% and increase baseload power generation, with almost no additional capacity needed. Due to intermittency of solar generation, 160 GW of backup power is needed to maintain grid stability. However, storage provides an opportunity to reduce the backup power capacity by 66%.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Civil and Environmental Engineering

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