Introduction to Computer Simulations

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The importance of computer programs for simulating and analysing renewable energy systems has increased during recent years. These programs are often used for predicting the energy gain, defining and optimizing systems or conducting economical calculations. Simulation software is also of importance for developing new system concepts. Analysing and simulating systems before building and commissioning can avoid problems, which could occur when deploying a prototype. Hence, simulation can save time and cost at the development stage as well as acting as quality control in the operational phase.

The number and quality of computer programs available have increased during recent years, alongside the increasing importance of renewable energy systems. Besides established software packages that have been in use for many years, there are always interesting new developments. Software in the marketplace covers almost all renewable applications possible today. This chapter aims to give access to available software; it is not a manual on how to implement the scientific descriptions given in the remainder of this book. The aim is to advise on suitable software packages, which can be found on the included complementary CD-ROM, either as full versions or as demonstration versions. A description of the software is not given in this book, as this would go beyond the scope of this chapter. However, detailed descriptions and manuals for programs are included on the CD-ROM.

The diversity of available professional programs does not supersede the theory of the renewable energy systems described in this book. Simulation results are only as good as the algorithms used. Only the understanding of the algorithms used allows a judgement to be made of the quality of any program and its results. However, the algorithms underlying the simulations are not always described for simulation programs. In most cases, the user is expected to trust the results blindly. The only possibility for verifying the results is a knowledge of basic calculation methods, which are described in the relevant chapters. Simulation results should always be validated when using computer software. A good feeling for the plausibility of the results is crucial. Although it is not possible to check all calculations in detail, some key results such as annual energy yield or specific costs should be compared with similar numbers

Figure 7.1 Start Screen of the CD-ROM of the Book (Presentation with

Mozilla Browser)

Figure 7.1 Start Screen of the CD-ROM of the Book (Presentation with

Mozilla Browser)

from systems in operation. Sometimes, performing the simulation with two different computer programs is useful. If both results are of the same order of magnitude, the only mistakes possible are a result of badly chosen input parameters or unverifiable assumptions.

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