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A Simulation and Optimization Framework for Managing Wind-Driven Loading on PV Systems

DuraMAT is developing open-source and high-performance computing (HPC) simulation software to predict the cell and glass-cracking stresses experienced by a photovoltaic (PV) cell and design features to mitigate wind-driven degradation mechanisms.

A number of degradation mechanisms are excited by wind and the associated movement of trackers it causes. Even relatively modest wind speeds can create the kind of buffeting pressure forces and reversing loads on the panel surface that lead to the worsening of existing PV cell cracks over time and eventually panel deterioration and reduced power output. Higher wind speeds and extreme weather events are associated with larger-scale forces and motions, which can initialize cracks in both cells and glass during singular wind events, potentially leading to the destruction of entire sections of the PV array.

The simulation software will feature a wide variety of weather, installation, and operating conditions to enable the PV community to further optimize layout and design durable panels and longer-life arrays.

Core Objective

Multi-Scale, Multi-Physics Modeling


National Renewable Energy Laboratory


Our project will create a free and open-source, scalable (HPC) code base for collaborators to quickly define new wind-driven panel simulations and extend our methods to novel arrays and mounting geometries. Our results will take the form of pressure profile and inertial load time series that can be used as inputs into mechanical module models to study degradation mechanisms including cracking of cells, weathering of cracked cells, and glass breakage


Data will be made available to DuraMAT collaborators and external collaborators upon reasonable request. Software will be made available to the public.


S. Dana and E. Young. Aeroelastic Modeling and Full-Scale Loads Measurements for Investigation of Single-Axis PV Tracker Wind- Driven Dynamic Instabilities. NREL PV Reliability Workshop, February 2020.

E. Young, X. He, R. King, and D. Corbus. A fluid-structure interaction solver for investigating torsional galloping in solar-tracking photovoltaic panel arrays. Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy, 12(6):063503, 2020.

T. Silverman and M. Deceglie. Wind-driven and accelerated weathering of cracked cells. NREL PV Reliability Workshop, February 2022.


To learn more about this project, contact Ethan Young.

An image of three PV panels with wind swirling around them.

Figure 1. A colored representation of the wind velocity through the center of a periodic 3-panel array with streamlines used to highlight inter-panel vorticity. The buffeting effect of the wind is exacerbated by upstream and downstream panels and causes pressure fluctuations on the panel surface.