Solar

Solar panels tested against the elements at Queen’s U

Queen’s University is leading a multi-partner open-source project aimed at finding out how different weather conditions, including heavy snowfall, impact the effectiveness of solar panels. Anyone in the photovoltaic community and public at large will be able to use the data on 95 different solar modules.

May 16, 2011 — Sustainable energy experts from Queen’s University are leading a multi-partner open-source project aimed at finding out how different weather conditions, including heavy snowfall, impact the effectiveness of solar panels.

The Open Solar Outdoors Test Field (OSOTF) is a grid-connected solar panel testing system that continuously measures the energy output of 95 different types of solar panels and correlates their performance with precise meteorological data. The OSOTF is one of the largest solar panel analysis systems of this type in the world.

Despite the impressive expansion of solar photovoltaic power globally, there is “very little available information shared about the performance of solar cells in different outdoor environments,” said Joshua Pearce, the project’s lead researcher and a professor in the Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering. When the data and analysis is complete, it will be freely available to the photovoltaic community and the general public, Pearce continued.

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Photo. (L-R) Adegboyega Babasola, lead researcher at St. Lawrence College’s Sustainable Energy Applied Research Centre, and Rob Andrews, a doctoral candidate in Queen’s Department of Materials and Mechanical Engineering, at the Open Solar Outdoors Test Field (OSOTF).

Anyone, such as homeowners planning an installation, could use the data to see how local climactic conditions will impact the solar panels that they install and which type of solar panels will be the most efficient in a particular environment.

The results of the analysis on the effects of snow on solar systems will be compiled and released later this year. The researchers then plan to use the OSOTF for future specialized research projects dedicated to the development of worldwide sustainable power systems.

The OSOTF was originally developed as a partnership between Queen’s University’s Applied Sustainability Research Group headed by Dr. Pearce and the Sustainable Energy Applied Research Centre (SEARC) at St. Lawrence College. The OSOTF system has been made possible by funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the support of multiple collaborative industry partners including Advanced Solar Investments Ltd., AYA Instruments, Dupont Canada, eIQ Energy, Heliene Inc., KACO New Energy Inc., Photovoltaic Performance Labs Inc., Schueco Canada, Silfab Ontario, Sustainable Energy Technologies Ltd., Universidad Privada Boliviana, and Uni-Solar Ovonic LLC.

Learn more at www.queensu.ca

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