Wind incidence and pedestal height effect on the flow behaviour and aerodynamic loading on a stand-alone solar parabolic dish

Philip Graham, Sulaiman O. Fadlallah, Khaled Boulbrachene

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Parabolic dish concentrators (PDCs) exhibit superior efficiencies compared to other concentrating solar power systems, positioning them as the preferred renewable electricity generation technology. However, their high costs hinder the technology's development, compelling the industry to explore innovative cost-effective designs integrating lightweight composites. However, PDC manufacturers encounter challenges ensuring these designs can withstand the aerodynamic forces imposed on them. These challenges are intensified by the limited characterization of aerodynamic loading, often reliant on simplified geometry, fixed pedestal heights, or low-resolution data, overlooking wind incidence and height impacts. Hence, an investigation into wind incidence effect at varying tilt angles and pedestal heights was conducted using computational fluid dynamics. ANSYS/FLUENT was utilized for three-dimensional analysis of fluid flow over a developed detailed PDC model, incorporating key components not previously studied together. 90° to −90° tilt angles and 0°–90° wind incidences were investigated in 15° increments, considering various pedestal heights. The analysis demonstrated that tilt and wind incidence significantly affected the aerodynamic coefficients. The pedestal height significantly affected the base overturning moment results while also affecting the hinge moment at higher incidence values. Furthermore, wind incidence and pedestal height variations distinctly influenced the airflow field around the PDC, revealing different behavioural characteristics. Alongside providing an improved aerodynamic coefficients' characterization than previously offered, correlations relating those coefficients to the PDC's orientation and height were derived, providing an analytical tool for designers to determine wind loads on PDCs, assess structural forces and moments on the PDC's key components, and enhance cost-effective PDC development, thereby advancing their widespread commercial use.

Original languageEnglish
Article number120451
Number of pages24
JournalRenewable Energy
Early online date17 Apr 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Apr 2024

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