Ray-tracing technology introduces new possibilities in computer graphics. However, let’s find out how it could benefit the solar sector.

Virginijus Vasylius, PVcase Yield Product Manager, introduced the benefits of ray-tracing technology in solar design in the RE+ 2023 trade show back in September. This post provides a concise summary of the key insights he shared in his presentation.

What is ray-tracing technology?

Ray-tracing technology is widely employed in computer graphics to emulate light realistically. It offers many benefits in the realm of computer graphics and gaming. It delivers breathtakingly realistic visuals by accurately simulating the behavior of light in the real world. This realism is most evident in the way it creates lifelike effects such as reflections, refractions, and shadows.

Global illumination and the faithful reproduction of materials and textures further contribute to the authenticity of virtual environments. This technology also simplifies workflows and future-proofs hardware investments. As ray-racing continues to evolve, its impact on the gaming and entertainment industries grows, making it an essential tool for creating visually stunning and immersive experiences.

Ray-tracing can also be applied to other industries, and the solar sector is one of those. Let’s see how this innovative technology can benefit solar design processes.

The benefits of ray-tracing technology in the solar industry

Ray-tracing is a lighting simulation method relying on tracing individual light rays between the sky and solar cell surfaces. It also takes interactions with the detailed 3D scene into account. Ray-tracing technology can significantly improve the accuracy and speed of your PV model design. It can be particularly useful in assessing plants with terrain-following technology and bifacial models. Such improvements will significantly benefit financers, technical advisors, asset holders, and developers.

Ray-tracing simulations take into account hilly terrains with no limitations, speed unaffected by geometry complexity, and can take 3D models as provided by designers.

Here are the benefits of a 3D ray-tracing-based simulation model compared to a 2D view-factor-based one:

  • the 3D layout is simulated as provided by designers
  • Calculation of hilly terrain and bifacial panels with no limitation
  • Increased computation effort for complex models
  • Comprehensive but complex method implementation

Ray-tracing estimates how different parts of a 3D solar plant model affect energy generation. For example, it can calculate:

  • How shading causes uneven string illumination and electrical mismatch losses
  • How terrain-following frame placement leads to row-to-row shading and varied module orientation
  • How the combination of frame geometry, sun position, and ground albedo affects the performance of bifacial panels

This cutting-edge technology is undergoing continuous development and is set for further enhancements in the near future. These advancements are expected to contribute to even greater precision in solar designs.