I recently had the pleasure of staying at a hotel in the old town of Quito, Ecuador, and saw a photovoltaic (PV) installation that would seem strange in most of the world.
We typically see PV panels tilting toward the south in the northern hemisphere or toward the north in the southern hemisphere, in order to capture the sun’s rays. A variation is to tilt toward the west in afternoon-peaking locations, such as Austin, Texas, where air conditioning drives peak loads. (Click here to read the work by Pecan Street that considers the tradeoffs between maximizing energy production and maximizing the value of that energy).
At my hotel in Quito, however, the courtyard had been covered by horizontal PV panels:
As well as being an attractive building-integrated PV awning, it was also perfectly oriented, since Quito is almost on the equator. It allowed some light through to the courtyard below, because the PV cells were mounted on a transparent support (see below), and also provided shade for the courtyard.
The combination of an old colonial building with updated decor and energy sources made for a lovely stay in this charming town.