Researchers in Hungary optimize PV panel angles after analyzing sunflowers

Science

Observing the "behavior" of sunflowers, researchers at Budapest's Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE) have established that angling solar panels in Hungary slightly to the east can boost their output by up to 5%, the university told state news wire MTI.

Although long known that mature sunflowers face east, scientific explanations for the phenomenon remained unproven through experimentation. In 2020, ELTE researchers established a firm link between local light conditions and the direction sunflowers face.

Their results, based on an analysis of meteorological, astronomical, and plant physiology data, showed that because skies are generally cloudier in the afternoon than in the morning, sunflowers that face east gain the most energy from the sun.

The ELTE researchers then applied those results to solar panels which, according to "prevailing opinion", should point south.

In a year-long study of the energy volume collected by solar panels in three areas of the United States and three regions of Europe, they found that the ideal direction for the solar panels was tilted slightly to the east everywhere but in the south of Sweden, where average cloud cover is the same in the morning and the afternoon.

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