Structural Analysis of Supporting Structures for Solar Collectors

Dlubal Software for Solar Energy Industry

6. February 2014

Currently, many photovoltaic systems are being built. Several well-known manufacturers count on RFEM and RSTAB developed by Dlubal Software to calculate the collectors' supporting structures.

They take advantage of the features provided by both 3D structural analysis programs, which are, among others, the automatic load generation, the creation of special cross-sections, the connection to the COM interface, the generation of super combinations to consider different inclination angles of solar cells, etc.

Moreover, the structural components consisting of steel and aluminum, as well as the concrete for the foundation, are designed according to Eurocode.

Use of Special Cross-Sections

If you want to use your own special cross-section, it can be easily created in the Dlubal program SHAPE‑THIN. It does not matter if your section is an open, closed or composite cross-section. The sections can be imported to RFEM/RSTAB where they will be designed.

Using the COM interface you have the possibility to complement RFEM or RSTAB by input macros or post-processing programs. Some solar companies generate in this way wind and snow loads for any region in the world. Managing your own design tools after the determination of internal forces in the Dlubal programs is also possible.

Furthermore, you can perform the structural analysis completely in RFEM/RSTAB, from the load input with various automatic load generators to the creation of the printout report.

Superposition of Different States

If the intention is to have the solar cells oriented towards the position of the sun, you can consider this in RSTAB by a superposition of different states (see example in the picture on the right). In SUPER-RC, an envelope of all extreme values is created for the different models.

The design of steel and aluminum structures including stability analyses can be carried out according to EC 3.

In addition, ten international standards are available for the steel design, such as the U.S. standard, the Swiss, Indian, British or Chinese standard. If the concrete foundations are also a component of the performance for the structural calculation, they can be designed according to Eurocode 2.

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