It goes without saying that an actively adjusted flat panel is going to be more efficient. But, there is one issue with adjusting the flat panel
periodically: maintenance. If a technician adjusts the panel twice a year, or the panel is adjusted automatically by servos, there is a mechanical
maintenance issue. If the solar panel system is located at a very remote site, accessing the site could be problematic. So a solar array that is
properly adjusted all year long would require very little maintenance or adjustment.
With respect to the different number of Solar Cells apparent in the picture, I think someone noticed earlier in the thread that there are another 10
cells on the back of the cardboard. That would make the number of cells the same. For his tests, I don't know whether he unfolded the cardboard so
they are all pointing the same direction or not. However, one of the real issues in these tests is the actual aggregate amount of active surface area
the solar cells provide for the different test scenarios. It appears that the young man has used aftermarket solar cell chips. That's a lot cheaper
route than buying new individual cells. So, give him another "A" for an economically efficient build. But that makes an apples to apples
The idea of using the Fibonacci sequence is to distribute the cells such that at any moment at least some set of the solar cells is in the most
advantageous position to receive the sunlight at an angle that will generate the greatest amount of power.
Given that the amount of energy that can be generated from a solar cell is directly related to its angle with respect to the sun, if that relationship
is linear, then there would be no additional efficiency gained by using the solar array "tree" over a static solar array panel. In fact it would
probably be less efficient. However, that relationship is nonlinear and the amount of power generated by the solar cell falls off quickly with an
increasing incident angle. This webpage
provides a formula that indicates that the solar array power
varies as a constant raised to the power of the secant of the sun's incident angle with respect to the solar array. So, at certain times of the day,
a few properly oriented "tree" solar cells could potentially provide more power than an entire array of fixed solar cells.
It would be interesting to actually run a test where the "tree" branch solar cells are oriented in a direction optimized for a specific latitude.
However, unlike the young man's experiment, such tests would have to run under tighter controls with more expensive components. For comparison, the
test would also have a static array and sun-tracking array scenarios. The test would have to run for a year and individual power measurements would be
taken at some interval that would provide sufficient granularity to determine how efficient the various configurations were at any specific time of
day and year. The panels would have to be cleaned periodically to remove that variable from the experiment. Of course this could also be computer
modeled relatively easily (for someone with a lot of extra time on their hands.)
I would really like to see his test methodology and designs. It would be interesting to try to reproduce his results and see if there are
improvements that can be made to his initial design to further improve efficiency.
So, I think the young man is onto something. At the very least it makes us think about new approaches to solving difficult problems. I highly
commend him for his efforts!