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Lightning Protection, Cost Analysis and Improved Efficiency of Solar Power Plant for Irrigation System

Department of Electrical Engineering, CECOS University of IT & Emerging Sciences, Peshawar 25000, Pakistan
Department of Electrical Engineering, Taif University of KSA, Taif 21944, Saudi Arabia
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2022, 14(10), 6235;
Received: 23 February 2022 / Revised: 4 May 2022 / Accepted: 11 May 2022 / Published: 20 May 2022
(This article belongs to the Topic Advances in Solar Heating and Cooling)


The constraints in the path of sustainable, cost-effective, and efficient photovoltaic power supply to the irrigation system in remote areas are addressed in this work. The intrinsic thermal losses in the PV system due to high working temperature and shading losses that are caused by dirt are mitigated through water cleaning mechanisms. Moreover, the protection against lightning strikes and surges is assimilated in the system to ensure the durability of the PV system. Lastly, cost analysis of 0.4 MW PV plant for the Area of 7444.69 m2 has been performed by the Homer Pro, and comparison is made with the same size of a Hydro power plant to estimate the economic feasibility of power generation for the purpose of irrigation through the pump house. The water-cooling mechanism resulted in the gain of one volt per panel of 260 W, which is a significant improvement with regard to collective PV plant generation. As the water cleaning mechanism for dust removal is accompanied with the cooling process, it results in the two volts rise per panel. Additionally, a cost analysis of 0.4 MW PV system provided a significant budget saving estimating USD ~2 million as compared to that of a Hydel power plant of the same size.

1. Introduction

As electricity is one of the major factors that has an impact on the future of developing nation, so it is the area of concern for the development of mankind. It is seen that the development of one nation is dependent upon the usage of energy by that nation. The increase in the energy generation capacity of one country has direct impact on the growth of economy and social dimension of that country. For this reason, it is mandatory to generate power by other sources as well along with the conventional ways, as it is the significant way that can help in the development of nation. There are two diverse ways by which solar energy can be utilized: the first is by solar thermal and the second is by solar photovoltaic (PV) framework. Water has been used to create steam to produce electricity by running steam turbine/generator and space heating by acquiring thermal energy with the help of solar thermal system [1].
In 2018, Muhammad Kamran [2] performed the study to investigate the current position and future success of renewable energy in light of operational and under construction renewable energy projects. The results showed the success of renewable energy in Pakistan which will attracts not only local but also foreign investors to invest in Pakistan.
Nowadays, the world is widely using the emerging technology of the solar-PV-system. The working of sun radiation-based energy production mechanism is to convert the solar light using the photovoltaic (PV) effect into direct current DC electricity. The generation from solar PV system is possible through the solar cell present in the solar PV module of PV system. The submissions of the solar-PV-system are divided into two categories: one is when it is connected with grid, and the other is when it is working off-grid/standalone. Independent PV framework has direct convenience in decreasing the peak load, especially the load of small and medium enterprises and industrial facility [1]. However, it is seen through the examination of the incidents that happened in multi-MW sun-driven energy producing plants that the electricity generated through PV modules is decreased by 8–15% due to the quality of the light from the sun. Within the circumstance when the PV panels are set in the dark, it is seen that about 42% of the drop in outcome may be because of the even shed of light on all the edges [3].
There are some important points of views that must be considered for the achievement of perfect implementation, that include the position of the panel that should be at the level where the daylight falls in a manner that is ideal. Additionally, the position of the panel should be changed according to the circumstances such as season or the territory [4].
Right now, monetarily accessible photo-voltaic (PV) panels have an efficiency somewhere in the range of 10 and 30 %. It is important that the solar energy should be changed into power efficiently and for the same purpose it is crucial to upgrade the system whenever and wherever it is necessary and is possible [4].
In the photovoltaic panels, the dust deposition not only minimizes the radiations that reach the solar PV panel but also affects the dependence on the angle of incidents of such radiation. The authors of [5] made a study showing the mean of daily energy loss of 4.4% during the year being caused by dust deposition on Solar PV panel. It was also observed that daily energy losses can be greater than 20% in the long periods without rain.
Further, the performance of photovoltaic PV panels can be increased by mitigation the three types of losses, i.e., optical, electrical and thermal. The reduction in optical and electrical losses in the PV panels are costly. Therefore, one should minimize the thermal losses to achieve the best performance of PV panels. The thermal losses result in the reduction in output power of PV panels working on temperatures above 25 °C as well as in the aging of PV Panels. In [6], the quantification of all possible strategies for minimizing the thermal losses in the PV panel has been carried out, and it was proposed that the minimum level of conductive/convective cooling is essential for mitigation of thermal losses in the PV Panels.
As a rule, PV frameworks can be introduced under three distinct classes, specifically, the private (lodging), business building (privately owned business/mechanical structure) and solar parks. Past examinations through the product and trial works have demonstrated that how the lightning influenced the frameworks and impacted the general presentation of PV frameworks. For instance, the impact of lightning impulse voltage causes different kinds of electrical degradation, for example, heat treatment and how the recurrent impulse pushes generally bring down the peak voltage [7].
To improve the productivity of the solar photovoltaic panels, this research work focuses toward the cooling, which decreases the temperature significantly as well as providing lightning and surge protection to the solar power plant. For the cooling purpose of the panels, one sends ordinary resources to the plant site, which further results in a compelling action. This article discusses the PV losses, methods to reduce the losses, lightning and surge protection, cost benefit analysis, and discussion of which source is preferred for irrigation system.
This article is structured as follows: section II elaborates different types of PV losses and methods to reduce these losses, section III represents the lightning protection of PV modules, section IV discusses the proposed model of solar PV plant being used for operating the pump house and reducing PV losses, section V deals with the cost analysis and section VI presents the results followed by a conclusion.

2. PV Losses and Methods to Reduce PV Losses

The working temperature of photovoltaic PV panels depicts a critical boundary that impacts their transformation productiveness. High working temperatures of PV panels diminish the transformation efficiency of the panels within the same conditions of solar radiation, which eventually minimizes the greatest yield power. In 2016, Sebastian Valeriu Hudișteanu [8] displayed that under the case of monocrystalline silicon solar cells, the common greatest values of proficiency have come in between 14% and 17%. Those solar radiations, which have not been changed into power, are completely changed into heat.
It has been noted that the produced power due to PV showed a decrease due to individual solar cells or entire modules are midway covered. Even though there are other losses, losses due to thermal conduction and dust deposition losses are considered vital.

2.1. Dust Deposition and Attenuation of Sunlight by Dust Layer

The dust deposition on the PV module surface reduces the solar radiations falling on the solar cell and so causing decrease in the yeild power. Additionally, the dust deposition on the surface of solar PV module depends on the angle onto which the panel is inclined. It has been seen that the dust piling up decreases when the inclination angle of the solar PV module changes from (0°) level to (90°) vertical, also this has been varified through experimental approach [5,9].

2.2. Thermal Losses

The electricity production of silicon solar cell depends upon their working temperature. It has been seen that short circuit current (Isc) increases to some degree with an increase in temperature. Moreover, the open-circuit voltage (Voc) reduces (approximately 2.3 mV/°C) with an increase in temperature of the solar PV modules [2]. The ability of the PV module reduces with an increase in the temperature of the module [10].
There are numerous strategies to decrease losses in the solar PV module energy yield such as dynamic cooling of panels through water, air base cooling and cooling with heat sinks, etc. In 2018 S. Nižetić [11] got the 10% to 20% average highest increase in performance of PV panels achieved by water base cooling methods.
Our methodology is front water cooling of the solar PV panels to reduce thermal losses. As this research work deals with the reduction in two types of solar PV losses, i.e., temperature losses and losses due to dust deposition on surface of solar panel. Both the losses can be minimized by active water cooling. There are also other methods to reduce the aforementioned losses, i.e., use of heat sink and air-cooled solar panels, etc. As we are proposing the solar PV plant powers the pump house, there is therefore an excess amount of water available in the area and using water cooling is the best option to minimize the losses. By using active water cooling, the extra cost associated with the cooling system of solar PV plant can be minimized. It is alluring to keep up low board temperatures, since efficiency and electrical yield decrease with increased working temperature.

3. Lightning Protection of PV Models

3.1. Lightning Protection from Direct Impulse

To begin with, we need to calculate the yearly number of direct lightning strikes on the locality under discussion. We can determine the mean annual number of probability of number of direct lightning strikes N d by utilizing the equation given underneath:
N d = N g · A d · C d · 10 6
N g = Yearly mean number of lightning strikes per square kilometer = 5 to 14 ( N g increases as we go in Northern areas of Pakistan [12,13]);
C d = Ambient coefficient = 0.5 [14] At the selected site, there are no trees and buildings so that the value will be 0.25;
A d = Equivalent intercepting area in square meters = 7444.69 m2.
We can calculate N d by using the equation for minimum and maximum possible values of N g .
In the case of PV plant prescribed to function pumphouse within the chosen zone, indirect lightning security is not prescribed due to taking after reasons:
A small-scale power plant requires the area of 7444.69 m2, which is exceptionally low. Moreover, due to the non-presence of high buildings or trees around the proposed PV plant, there is an exceptionally low probability of indirect surges.
  • However, a direct drop of thunder on the surrounded vitality unit surface will certainly harm the PV module. The lightning impulse voltage causes electrically degradation of the PV model with bubbles that leads to breakdown of the PV model. In [15,16,17] the researchers have conducted two tests:
  • Up to 3000 impulses Lightning impulse voltage tests.
  • The PV model was tried with heat treatment until bubbles showed up in its protection layer and tried with a lightning impulse voltage similarly as in the primary test.
Although a quick thunder strike on a module casing will not completely damage it, the module itself will be harmed. In addition, since of the incorporation of higher capable by and large shared inductance, the harm will be significantly more vital when the casing of a module that is wired to different individual modules perseveres a prompt lightning strike.
There are two primary viewpoints to be secured while doing the lightning protection of the PV plant from direct lightning strokes:
  • When solar panels are frame-mounted;
  • When the solar panels are roof-mounted;
Moreover, if we are utilizing roof-mounted solar PV plant, it must be kept in mind to avoid the induction phenomenon, that adequate safety clearance “ S ” should be kept up between PV panels and lightning current conductors. Such acceptance could also be minimized by the utilize of surrounded solar modules with small common acceptance cabling.
The safety clearance S is the distance between the solar panel and lightning conductor, which can be calculated by following equation.
Minimum safety clearance for proximities:
S m i n = 0.04 k c k m l
where k m is a material factor with the following values: k m for air distances; k m ≈ 0.5 if the proximity distance covers wood, concrete or brick.
l is the length of the loop down-conductor section through which the lightning current flows.
k c shows the Proportion of lightning current in a down-conductor relative to overall current.

3.2. Roof-Mounted Solar PV Panels

For the case of a plant for irrigation system mounted on the top of any building or roof over the ground level, the total building ought to be protected from lightning strikes.
In [18], the scientists manage the plan of an assurance framework for PV panel establishments against lightning. It underscores to the coordination of the different surge protecting parts and sums up the essential techniques for the adequate and compelling investigation of PV lightning execution. The introduced plan strategies incorporate the danger the board, the partition into lightning protection zones (LPZ), the interior and outside LPS, the determination of the electrical qualities, the productive placement of the surge protective devises (SPDs) and the grounding framework, as per the current Standards, considering, all the while, the worldwide exploration results and the regular practice. For scenarios like these, we must adhere the following course of actions using surge protection devices (SPDs). The specialists in this investigation reviews about the impact on the framework components when lightning straightforwardly strikes at two unique points of the establishment. Such two points lies between the inverter and the solar PV Panel and among inverter and grid. From the examinations managed without the consideration of Surge protection devices SPDs, solar PV model would be harmed and debased because of very high current and voltage that are proliferated as traveling waves delivered by an immediate lightning strike on specific purposes of the PV Rooftop framework [19].
Figure 1 shows the protection scheme used for roof-mounted solar PV panels. In such a case, PV panels need to be put inside the assurance zone of lightning conductors. The safety clearance S between the panel and lightning conductor should be more than 60 cm. Additionally, framed modules and wiring having low mutual acceptance should be utilized. SPDs have to be mounted on both sides of the DC fundamental cable bent with Pal/shielded. The power leads and inverter must be protected by utilizing type 1 and type 2 SPDs respectively.

3.3. Protection of Ground-Based Frame-Mounted PV Panels against Lightning Strikes

Perfect lightning protection has been achieved by utilizing enveloped modules, an embedded and fitted metallic mounting structure, low-shared inductance wiring, and able surge protection devices (SPDs) with an adequately high-surveyed current burden. Underneath the figure are the thunder flash security estimates required for such a PV establishment.
Figure 2 shows the shadow effect of panels and the termination rods. Lightning security components for a gigantic ground-based PV foundation with three inverters. Long DC cables have to be presented between the show circuit boxes and the generator intersection encloses the inverter work area zones. Such joints have to be laid in cable conduits or in over-the-ground metal raceways. Two-sided type 2 SPDs must be mounted at either end of these joint. Running a ground wire with a comparative check as the positive and negative wires reduces the varistor load from any lightning current that can be actuated in these wires. Sort 1 SPDs (in a perfect world half and half contraptions that keep surge voltage as low as may be anticipated under such conditions) need to be introduced on the arrange side.
Figure 3 shows the protection scheme for ground-based PV panel against lightning strikes. In this case, the lightning poles are presented on the module mounting system, to reduce the lightning current triggered within the display wires: the Termination Grounding Kit (TGK), as in Figure 3, ensured that the DC-link has to be laid in diligently joined and individually grounded metal raceways, or that the sensible sort 1 SPDs (Figure 3) were mounted on either side of the DC cables. The figure underneath shows the lightning poles to be introduced in such a way that they (a) are inside the PV panels assurance zone, (b) show the least required clearances with the solar PV panels, and (c) do not cast superfluous shadows in the season of winters.

4. Proposed Model

In 2019 Muhammad Irfan and Zen-Yu Zhao [20] have gathered the information for solar radiation and wind speed for a time of one year in a few significant urban communities of Pakistan. Results shows that as far as value, life range, activity and support cost, Solar energy is the best sustainable power source alternative for Pakistan.
As mentioned earlier, the dust deposition on the surface of the solar PV module brought about a decrease in PV output. For this reason, Dusted and clean solar PV module was tested practically and observed that there is significant increase in the output voltage with the cleaning of Solar PV module. For this reason, a PV module of max. power 260 Wp and open-circuit voltage 36.0 V was chosen.
Table 1 shows the rating and capacity of the test system under observation. King-Star solar PV panels are selected for experimental setup. PV module model name is KS260P-60. Max power it can generate is 260 W/module having Voc and Isc of 36 V and 9 A, respectively.

4.1. Effect of Dust on Output Voltage

Two modules of PV were chosen to observe the contrast in output open-circuit voltage. At the temperature of 46 °C, the experiment was performed. The voltage distinction of dusted and clean PV module has been observed within Figure 4a,b individually.
Figure 4a,b shows the response of the module in respect of open-circuit voltage for dusted and cleaned PV panels. (a) This shows the experimental result of the PV module for a dusted surface at 46 °C. (b) This shows the open-circuit voltage value for the cleaned PV module at 46 °C.
Figure 5 shows there is almost a 1-volt difference between the open circuit voltages of clean and neatened solar PV modules. In our proposed location, the five pumps required power is 92 KW. For this reason, 200 PV panels will be introduced at that point. Hence, on the off chance that we will spare 1-volt from each dusted solar PV module, we can increase the productivity of the PV panel to be introduced for the operation of pumps for irrigation purposes.

4.2. Active Water Cooling Method

Moreover, as discussed earlier, the electric output decreases with an increase in the working temperatures. For this reason, dynamic cooling was used to reduce the temperature of the photovoltaic module as shown in the Figure 6. In our proposed solar PV setup [3], we are making a lean layer of water to stream on the surface of the panels.
Various plans to decrease reflection have been proposed; however, a significant part of them have drawbacks such as utilization of hostile to intelligent coatings, which are exceptionally small solid and besides organized surfaces are costly. Up until this point, water with a refractive index of 1.3 is the most attainable interface between glass (η = 1.5) and discuss (η = 1) [21]. Furthermore, a flimsy layer of water streaming on the outside of the PV panel would build the convective heat transfer from the outside of the water will bring further increase in the effectiveness by controlling the surface temperature of the PV module [3].
Spilling a film of cooling water on the module surface has to be compelled to hypothetically permit activity at even lower temperatures than without the cooling PV module as shown in the Figure 7 below. Because of the speedy progression of the water through the surface, there has to be just a negligible increase in water temperature [21].
The estimations and results that appeared in the figures can be accomplished by introducing the little and low-cost pump for PV modules with insignificant cost impact. Due to the presence of excessive water at the proposed location, it will be exceptionally convenient to carry out the dynamic cooling of solar PV modules. Moreover, the water after performing the dynamic cooling of solar PV modules will be utilized to move forward the grounding of the PV module by channelizing. It will also help in the enhancement of productivity.
The results of the practical test are very encouraging. In early morning and late evening, it has been observed that the cooling of the PV panel is reducing heat from the board, making it less effective [22]. The practical experiment showed that avoiding early morning cooling and late evening cooling of PV panels increases the overall output voltage of the solar control plant.
We are proposing the PV panels to operate the pump house, including five centrifugal horizontal pumps within the selected region of Pakistan, where water is accessible in abundance. In the proposed area, after opting for the approach of improving solar panel efficiency, we are utilizing water based dynamic cooling to maintain a strategic distance from thermal losses within the PV panels. The perforated polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic pipe with holes at the top of the panels was fixed to another pipe leading towards the motor, which draws water from the adjacent canal. Closed-circuit water streams have to be incorporated with a few components for absorption of warmth from the surface of the PV panels as described in the Figure 8 below.
After that, we are proposing lightning protection for the PV panels. For this, a “Water channel” mechanism has been proposed, in which wastewater after cooling of PV panels would stream through the proposed water channel. This water channel has been designed in a way that grounding for the purpose of lightning protection of PV panels come in the way of the said water channel. With the arrangement of the water channel, the surface temperature of the soil remains low as well as it will be useful for the grounding reason.
Figure 8. Diagram showing proposed idea.
Figure 8. Diagram showing proposed idea.
Sustainability 14 06235 g008

5. Cost Analysis

A couple of recreation and computational gadgets have been made, such as MATLAB, TRYNSIS, and Hybrid 2, as well as different calculation methods for energy reproduction. HOMER programming has been built up by NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Cole Boulevard Golden, CO, USA) which is utilized for ideal planning and to study the techno-monetary possibility of the autonomous and hybrid sustainable power source system. This item may be a profitable gadget for the perfect planning, measuring, and arranging of hybrid economic power source systems through carting out techno-financial examination for away lattice and matrix-associated power frameworks [23].

5.1. Components of Proposed Model

The majority of PV modules or solar power is seen as expensive when it is contrasted with such power frameworks that are operating on standard energy sources. Utilization of solar power in such a way is not exempt from cost examination, as a single PV module is expensive when utilized independently and differentiated and accessible at entryway step. Figure 9 shows the schematic diagram of model used for simulation in Homer pro simulation tool. As HOMER Pro simulation apparatus is utilized to give the framework designers possibility and financial report of the framework being planned, so as to check frameworks suitability. The principal motivation behind the HOMER Pro is to limit the net present cost NPC and working expenses of the framework dependent on the affectability inputs. For the financial investigation, the yearly markdown pace of 10%-and 25-years venture lifetime was considered [23].
“Schneider Conext CL25000 E with generic PV” and panels of type “Flat plate” PV panels having the effectiveness of 17.30% with the rated capacity of 495 KW are utilized for simulation. The capital cost of the PV module is considered 1200 USD/kW. However, replacement cost is considered as 1200 USD/kW with operation and maintenance cost of 34 USD/year. The PV module lifetime is 25 years. Capital expense of converter is considered as 300$ while substitution cost is additionally 300$ [24]. The derating variable of PV exhibit is 85% as shown in the Figure 10.

5.2. Comparison of Cost of Solar PV Plant and Hydro power Plant Being Used for Irrigation System in Proposed Site

In the proposed location (Spinwam, Area North Waziristan), a 0.4 MW Hydropower station has been proposed to run the pump house, comprising five horizontal centrifugal pumps. In this research work, we plan to compare the cost proposed of Hydropower and PV for the operation of the said pump house.

5.3. Hydro Power Station at Proposed Site

At the chosen location, a powerhouse having a capacity of 0.4 MW has been proposed to run the pump house, in order to lift the water to irrigate the upper lands. The prime objective of this venture is to irrigate the virgin lands of Spaira Ragha fields (4080 sections of land) and Sheratalla plains (12,300 acres) regions, which will advance agriculture within the remote regions of Pakistan.
The need of the running pump house will be met with the development of a 0.4 MW hydropower plant by introducing two Francis turbines at the powerhouse with the installed capacity of 0.4 MW. The project is environmentally sound because it will not deliver CO2 and SO2, as compared to thermal generation. Climate change represents a significant test for developing countries. Regardless of providing evidence to assist low-carbon and environment versatile techniques, Pakistan currently cannot commit to standard environmental change inside their public improvement plans. The project will develop the thought of feasible advancement through the gathering of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).

5.4. Cost of Hydro Power

At the chosen location, the cost of hydropower also includes the cost of an 11 KV transmission line having a distance of 9 km. The acquiring of land, as well as the cost of land, also plays an imperative part in the cost of the hydropower plant. A hydro power project cost includes different types of major E&M equipment as well as their insurance, shipping, handling and storage and local transport, due to which the cost of Hydro power project reaches its limits.
In the Bill of Quantities (BOQ) for a hydropower station, the BOQ rate of electrical and mechanical works for the hydro power plant having a capacity of 0.4 MW is PKR 278 million. The 9 Km transmission line (11 KV) from the location of PH to the pumphouse costs PKR 62 million, whereas the cost of penstock material, fabrication and hydro testing, which also includes installation, is PKR 117.45 million [25]. Furthermore, time is the key factor that can impact the project’s progress.

5.5. Cost of Solar Plant

The schematic model of the solar and diesel generator has been analyzed in the Homer Pro simulation tool. Different costs of the model are shown in the Table 2 and Table 3 and Figure 11 below:
Table 2. Different types of costs of the presented model.
Table 2. Different types of costs of the presented model.
Cost TypeUSD
Net Present Cost 746,800
Operating Cost 42,919.35
Initial Capital Cost 687,100
Cost of Energy 2.88
Component wise costs of the model is shown in the table below:
Table 3. Different components cost of model.
Table 3. Different components cost of model.
Replacement (USD)O and M
Deisel Generator40,00000009342.7630,658.24
Solar PV594,000000000594,000

6. Results

Different type of losses of PV panels such as thermal losses, loses due to dust deposition, etc. are all addressed and strategies to reduce these losses are considered and analyzed. We are proposing power generation to operate the pump house in the chosen region of district North Waziristan to lift the water from lower lands and to irrigate the upper lands of the said locality. Hence, there is excessive water at said location, due to which we are proposing dynamic water cooling of PV panels to bring down the thermal losses and also to reduce the dust deposition on the surface of PV panels.
Lightning protection of the proposed PV panels has been discussed and examined. In our proposed proposal, excessive water after satisfying the cooling purpose of panels will be channelized through the open channel. The structure for lightning protection has been proposed such that water channels will help with damping the grounding soil to get the finest grounding of solar PV panels.
The renewable stand-alone hybrid model is simulated and optimized by the Homer Pro simulation tool, and the feasible result has been examined. Net present cost (NPC), cost of electricity (COE), capital cost, replacement cost, operation, and maintenance cost has been acquired from the Homer Pro software. The most important factors in the planned model for distant domain charge are NPC, COE and the capital cost of Model. At the chosen area, the land procurement in terms of cost is not difficult. The analysis carried out indicated that the cost of one plot of land in the chosen location costs PKR 0.1 million. After calculation, the PV model comprising 495 PV panels would cover nearly two acres of land. Each result of the planned model is differentiated and discussed with regard to the hydro power plant, after which a conclusion has been made.
Results gained from experimental observations have been analyzed and compared with previously obtained results as shown in Table 4 and Table 5:
After the water cooling of PV panels, the drain water would be channelized once more towards the pump house, and again it will be included with its source. The earthing of the lightning protection scheme has been proposed to be laid down beneath the said channel, so that the soil remains damp all day.
The capital cost of the hydropower plant having a capacity of 0.4 MW comes out to be, PKR 278 million. However, in the proposed plan, there is a 9 Km transmission line (11 KV) from the location of the powerhouse to the pump house having a cost of PKR 62 million. Still, the cost of penstock material, fabrication and hydro testing including installation is PKR 117.45 million. The hydropower plant requires land of nearly 10 acres and the per acre cost is PKR 0.1 million. Consequently, the total capital cost of the hydropower plant comes out to be PKR 458.45 million, which is equivalent to USD 2.760 million at an exchange rate of 166.05. However, the capital cost of the proposed model comprising PV, battery storage, converter, and emergency diesel generator is USD 687,100. This makes the PV framework more economical in terms of cost analysis to operate the pump house in the chosen location.

7. Conclusions

A locally available water-cooling mechanism is the inexpensive and easy process looking at the challenges regarding photovoltaic technology for irrigation purposes in the remote areas concerning its hot and dusty climate. The experimental design of a water cleaning and cooling mechanism on a single PV panel of 360 W demonstrated a gain of 2 V per panel, which can significantly improve the complete PV plant of 0.4 MW for the area of 7444.69 m2. The same water is then channelized for its major purpose of irrigation, which avoids the wastage of water. Moreover, generally practicing Hydel power generation in such an area where excessive water availability is considered a fundamental reason to rely on, is expensive in terms of capital cost compared to newly emerging cheap PV technology. The cost estimation for a Hydel power plant of 0.4 MW, provided by a company responsible for dam designing in the region, has approximated PKR 278 million, which is PKR 2 million higher than that of the PV technology we have proposed with the water cooling and cleaning mechanism. Along with an efficient cleaning and cooling system, protection against surges and lightning strikes is also incorporated in the PV system, which will ensure PV plant durability.
However, the water used for cleaning is directly taken from the stream / canal, which might have some chemical impact on the panel’s chemical composition. It may result in the degradation of PV efficiency or lifetime, which needs a detailed lab investigation. In this case, stream water containing minerals that result in the degradation of PV can be avoided by using a filtration plant. Such filtered water can be used both for clean PV and for the benefit of the local community. Moreover, the output voltage can be improved by using LDR sensors and MPPTs.

Author Contributions

Conceptualization, W.R.; methodology, W.R. and I.U.; software, W.R.; validation, I.U., N.U. and A.A.A.; formal analysis, I.U.; investigation, W.R.; I.U.; resources, N.U.; writ-ing—original draft preparation, W.R.; writing—review and editing, I.U., W.R.; supervision, I.U.; project administration, N.U.; funding acquisition, N.U. and A.A.A. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.


This work was supported by Taif University, Taif, Saudi Arabia, under Taif University Researchers Supporting Project (TURSP-2020/121).

Institutional Review Board Statement

Not applicable.

Informed Consent Statement

Not applicable.

Data Availability Statement

Not applicable.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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Figure 1. Protection of roof-mounted PV panel against lightning strikes [12].
Figure 1. Protection of roof-mounted PV panel against lightning strikes [12].
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Figure 2. Shadow effect of panels and termination rods [12].
Figure 2. Shadow effect of panels and termination rods [12].
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Figure 3. Protection of Ground-based PV panel against lightning strikes [12].
Figure 3. Protection of Ground-based PV panel against lightning strikes [12].
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Figure 4. (a) Solar PV module model at the temperature of 46 °C; (b) The open-circuit output voltage of clean solar PV module model.
Figure 4. (a) Solar PV module model at the temperature of 46 °C; (b) The open-circuit output voltage of clean solar PV module model.
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Figure 5. The open circuit output voltage of dusted solar PV module model.
Figure 5. The open circuit output voltage of dusted solar PV module model.
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Figure 6. Active water cooling of solar PV module.
Figure 6. Active water cooling of solar PV module.
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Figure 7. Voltage improvement after active water cooling of solar PV module.
Figure 7. Voltage improvement after active water cooling of solar PV module.
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Figure 9. Homer model used in simulation.
Figure 9. Homer model used in simulation.
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Figure 10. Solar PV module used in simulation.
Figure 10. Solar PV module used in simulation.
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Figure 11. Cost of different components of model.
Figure 11. Cost of different components of model.
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Table 1. Different types of ratings of the presented model.
Table 1. Different types of ratings of the presented model.
King-Star Solar (
Model Name KS260 P-60
Max Power (Pm) 260 Wp
Open-Circuit Voltage (Voc) 36.0 V
Short-Circuit Current (Isc) 9.06 A
Max Power Voltage (Vmp) 30.2 V
Max Power Current (Imp) 8.60 A
Max System Voltage (V) 1000 VDC
Temperature Cycling Range −40 °C to +85 °C
Tolerance +/−10%
Weight 22.0 Kg
Table 4. Comparison of o/p voltage with and without dust.
Table 4. Comparison of o/p voltage with and without dust.
Power SourceOperating TemperatureO/P Voltage with Dust DepositionO/P Voltage of Clean Surface
Solar PV Panel of 38 v capacity46 °C29.9 v30.8 v
Table 5. Comparison of o/p voltage with and without water-cooling.
Table 5. Comparison of o/p voltage with and without water-cooling.
Power SourceO/P Voltage of Dry and of High Temperature Panel SurfaceO/P Voltage of Clean and Water-Cooled Panel Surface
Solar PV Panel of 38 v capacity28 v30 v
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Rahim, W.; Ullah, I.; Ullah, N.; Alahmadi, A.A. Lightning Protection, Cost Analysis and Improved Efficiency of Solar Power Plant for Irrigation System. Sustainability 2022, 14, 6235.

AMA Style

Rahim W, Ullah I, Ullah N, Alahmadi AA. Lightning Protection, Cost Analysis and Improved Efficiency of Solar Power Plant for Irrigation System. Sustainability. 2022; 14(10):6235.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Rahim, Waqas, Irshad Ullah, Nasim Ullah, and Ahmad Aziz Alahmadi. 2022. "Lightning Protection, Cost Analysis and Improved Efficiency of Solar Power Plant for Irrigation System" Sustainability 14, no. 10: 6235.

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