Solar in the snow: Two participants in the OSOTF

Nanofilm is performing an ongoing research project on the benefits of its hydrophobic and hydrophilic coatings for solar panels in partnership with the Open Solar Outdoors Test Field. eIQ Energy has also agreed to be an industry partner in the OSOTF. The array utilizes eIQ Energy’s vBoost DC-to-DC converter modules rather than traditional series-string wiring.

May 17, 2011 — Nanofilm is performing an ongoing research project on the benefits of its hydrophobic and hydrophilic coatings for solar panels. The work, begun in the fall of 2010, is in partnership with the Open Solar Outdoors Test Field. eIQ Energy has also agreed to be an industry partner in the Open Solar Outdoors Test Field. The array utilizes eIQ Energy’s vBoost DC-to-DC converter modules rather than traditional series-string wiring.

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.

Phase One testing for Nanofilm is measuring the coatings’ ability to help panels shed sunblocking snow that interferes with operation in cold climates. Further testing will determine the coatings’ ability to shed dirt that reduces glass transmissivity and panel efficiency.

“Maintaining the efficiency of solar panels at their optimum levels is a challenge under actual use conditions due to environmental factors such as dirt and snow accumulation,” said Dr. Krish Rao, VP of technology for Nanofilm.

eIQ Energy’s approach provides researchers with the ability to isolate each individual module on the bus and identify its specific performance characteristics. Because each module operates independently of those around it, each can be measured on its individual merits. The OSOTF team has relied on the vBoost unit’s 99.6% efficient MPPT algorithm to control modules at their most efficient point of power production. This approach not only optimizes the power production of each module, but also provides OSOTF with the ability to collect independent data on each module while having them all connected into a single central inverter.

The Open Solar Outdoors Test Field was originally developed with a strong partnership between the Applied Sustainability Research Group and the Sustainable Energy Applied Research Centre (SEARC) at St. Lawrence College. At Queen’s University,

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 system has been made possible by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and contributions and collaborations from Nanofilm and more than ten other companies including Dupont Canada, Sustainable Energy Technologies Ltd., Advanced Solar Investments Ltd., and others.

Nanofilm is a leader in nanofilm technology and selfassembling thin films for a variety of substrates and surfaces. Learn more at www.nanofilmtechnology.com

eIQ Energy, Inc. uses unique power management technology to make solar energy more effective and affordable. For more information, please visit www.eiqenergy.com

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