First Advisor

David Sailor

Date of Publication

Spring 5-5-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Mechanical Engineering


Mechanical and Materials Engineering




Green roofs (Gardening) -- Thermal properties, Photovoltaic cells -- Thermal properties, Heat -- Transmission -- Measurement, Photovoltaic power generation, Roofing -- Design and construction



Physical Description

1 online resource (ix, 80 pages)


Recent studies suggest that integration of photovoltaic panels with green roofs may improve the performance of both. While vegetation may provide a benefit by reducing the net radiation load on the underside of the photovoltaic (PV) panels, it may also affect convective cooling of panels, and consequently, panel efficiency. Both effects likely diminish with the height of the PV panel above the roof, although placing PV panels too close to the vegetation increases the risk of the plants growing over the edges of, and shading the PV panel. There is a gap in the literature with respect to evaluating these competing effects. The present study aims to fill this gap.

Experiments were conducted over a two-month period during summer using two identical PV panels within an array of rooftop-mounted panels. These experiments were performed at two heights (18 cm and 24 cm) using three roofing types: white, black and green (vegetated). Results showed that the mean power output of the system in which the PV panel was mounted above a green roof was 1.2% and 0.8% higher than that of the PV-black roof and the PV-white roof at the 18 cm height. At the 24 cm height, the benefit of the green roof was slightly diminished with power output for the PV panel above a green roof being 1.0% and 0.7% higher than the black and white roof experiments, respectively. These power output results were consistent with measured variations in mean panel surface temperatures; the green roof systems were generally cooler by 1.5˚C to 3˚C. The panel surface mean heat transfer coefficients for the PV-green roof were generally 10 to 23% higher than for the white and black roof configurations, suggesting a mixing benefit associated with the roughness of the plant canopy. As expected, the results indicate that the best PV panel performance is obtained by locating the PV panel above a green roof. However, the relative benefits of the roof energy balance diminish with distance between the PV panel and the roof.

Moreover, the results of this study showed that the mean power output of the PV panel above the white roof was 0.7% and 0.44% higher than that of the PV panel above the black roof at 18 cm and 24 cm heights, respectively. The results of the power output differences in all the experiments were statistically significant at the 95% confidence interval (P < 0.01).


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