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High-Fidelity Solar Power Income Modeling for Solar-Electric Aircraft: Development and Flight Test Based Verification
P. Oettershagen, R. Siegwart
Performance, Modelling / Modeling, Solar Aircraft, Solar UAV
PV System Performance and Integration
Subtopic: Design and Operation of PV Systems
Event: 33rd European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition
Session: 6BV.2.46
2426 - 2433
ISBN: 3-936338-47-7
Paper DOI: 10.4229/EUPVSEC20172017-6BV.2.46
0,00 EUR
Document(s): paper


Solar power models are a crucial element of solar-powered aircraft design and performance analysis. During the conceptual design phase, their accuracy directly relates to the accuracy of the predicted performance metrics and thus the final design characteristics of the solar-powered aircraft. Likewise, during the operations phase of a solar-powered aircraft accurate solar power income models are required to predict and assess the solar power system performance. However, the existing literature on solar-powered aircraft uses highly simplified solar power models. This paper therefore, first, introduces a high-fidelity solar power model that takes into account the exact aircraft attitude, aircraft geometry, and physical effects such as temperature and the sun radiation's angle of incidence that influence the overall solar power system efficiency. Second, models that require a reduced set of input data and are thus more appropriate for the initial design phase of solar-powered aircraft are derived from the high-fidelity model. Third, the models are compared and verified against flight data from a 28-hour continuous day/night solar-powered flight. The results indicate that our high-fidelity model allows a prediction of the average solar power income with an error of less than 5% whereas previous models were only accurate to about 18%.