A simplified skyline-based method for estimating the annual solar energy potential in urban environments

Andres Calcabrini*, Hesan Ziar, Olindo Isabella, Miro Zeman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

57 Citations (Scopus)
130 Downloads (Pure)


Architects, engineers and urban planners have today at their disposal several tools for simulating the energy yield of photovoltaic systems. These tools are based on mathematical models that perform repetitive calculations to determine the annual irradiation received by solar panels; hence when photovoltaic systems are installed in complex urban environments, the simulations become highly computationally demanding. Here we present a simplified and yet accurate model for the direct calculation of the annual irradiation and energy yield of photovoltaic systems in urban environments. Our model is based on the correlation between the solar radiation components and the shape of the skyline profile. We show how calculations can be simplified by quantifying the skyline using two indicators: the sky view factor and the sun coverage factor. Model performance is evaluated in different climates using measured data from different photovoltaic systems. Results indicate that the proposed model significantly reduces the required computation time while preserving a high estimation accuracy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)206-215
Number of pages10
JournalNature Energy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository ‘You share, we take care!’ – Taverne project https://www.openaccess.nl/en/you-share-we-take-care Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


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