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Impact of utility-scale solar photovoltaic array on the aeolian sediment transport in Hobq Desert, China

Abstract

Deserts are ideal places to develop ground-mounted large-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) power station. Unfortunately, solar energy production, operation, and maintenance are affected by geomorphological changes caused by surface erosion that may occur after the construction of the solar PV power station. In order to avoid damage to a solar PV power station in sandy areas, it is necessary to investigate the characteristics of wind-sand movement under the interference of solar PV array. The study was undertaken by measuring sediment transport of different wind directions above shifting dunes and three observation sites around the PV panels in the Hobq Desert, China. The results showed that the two-parameter exponential function provides better fit for the measured flux density profiles to the near-surface of solar PV array. However, the saltation height of sand particles changes with the intersection angle between the solar PV array and wind direction exceed 45°. The sediment transport rate above shifting dunes was always the greatest, while that around the test PV panels varied accordingly to the wind direction. Moreover, the aeolian sediment transport on the solar PV array was significantly affected by wind direction. The value of sand inhibition rate ranged from 35.46% to 88.51% at different wind directions. When the intersection angle exceeds 45°, the mean value of sediment transport rate above the solar PV array reduces to 82.58% compared with the shifting dunes. The results of our study expand our understanding of the formation and evolution of aeolian geomorphology at the solar PV footprint. This will facilitate the design and control engineering plans for solar PV array in sandy areas that operate according to the wind regime.

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Acknowledgements

This research was supported by the Major Science and Technology Projects of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of China (zdzx2018058-3), the National Key Research and Development Project of China (2016YFC0500906-3), the Scientific and Technological Innovation Guiding Fund Project of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of China (R&D and Demonstration of Ecological Deserticulture Technology of Solar Photovoltaic Power Station in Sand Area) and the Scientific Research Project of Universities in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of China (NJZY19052).

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Correspondence to Yong Gao.

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Tang, G., Meng, Z., Gao, Y. et al. Impact of utility-scale solar photovoltaic array on the aeolian sediment transport in Hobq Desert, China. J. Arid Land 13, 274–289 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40333-021-0096-y

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s40333-021-0096-y

Keywords

  • aeolian sediment transport
  • mass flux density profiles
  • sand-fixation
  • shelter efficacy
  • solar photovoltaic array