Sunlight consists of two components, the direct beam which carries 90% of the solar energy and the diffuse sunlight which carries the remainder, as most of the energy is located in the direct beam, maximizing the collection required the sun to be visible as much time as possible.

Sun travels through 360 degrees east-west a day, and for a fixed location the visible portion is about 180 degrees during 12 hours period, due to local horizon effect; the effective motion is about 150 degrees.

The energy contributed by the direct beam drops off, by the cosine of the angle of incidence (angle between incoming light and panel).

Angle i

Losses = 1- cos (i)

Angle i

Losses = 1- cos (i)

0 °

0 %



1 °




3 °




8 °




23.4 °




For a fixed orientation panel, between the dawn and the sunset extremes will witness a motion of 75 degrees on either side, and thus according to table below, will lose around 75% of the energy throughout the day, a tracker rotation from east to west can help recapture these energy losses.

Solar tracking systems are used for orienting the solar panel toward the sun with a very high degree of accuracy.

Figure 1 single axis solar tracking

Figure 2 Solar panel alignment

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