Michigan Technological University’s Keweenaw Research Center (KRC) is now part of a two-year study that will help answer that question. The aims are to gauge how snow affects solar panels’ power generation and determine the best ways to overcome any losses.
Marcia Goodrich/Michigan Technological University
Michigan Tech solar energy scientist Joshua Pearce, left, and Jay Meldrum, director of the Keweenaw Research Center, with the array of solar panels behind KRC. Even on this gloomy day, they were cranking out electricity.
The international engineering firm DNV GL, which specializes in large energy- and sustainability-related projects, has built an array of solar photovoltaic panels behind KRC, each set at a different angle, from 0 degrees (flat) to 45 degrees. “If you tilt them at 60 degrees, almost no snow sticks to the panels, but you also lose a lot of sunlight when they are not facing the sky,” said Tim Townsend, a principal engineer for solar services with DNV GL.
Based on similar studies, year-round losses can be anywhere from a few percent (as found by Michigan Tech in a study looking at Ontario data) to 12 percent (39 degree tilt) to 18 percent (0 degree tilt), which Townsend measured near Lake Tahoe in California. Townsend’s group developed a model to predict how snowfall and other related variables would affect energy generation. Now, they will test their model in collaboration with Michigan Tech using data from the KRC solar array and other test sites in Colorado, Pennsylvania and California.
A small variance in power generation may not make a big difference for a homeowner with solar panels. However, it’s a big deal in industry.
“We do predictions on behalf of commercial lenders being asked to foot the bill for big solar arrays,” said Townsend. Good data “makes them more financeable.” Eventually, the study results will be publicly available through the KRC website and through solar energy simulation programs provided by the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
“Everybody who wants to develop solar energy in snowy climates on a large scale will need this data,” said Joshua Pearce, an associate professor of materials science and engineering/electrical and computer engineering at Michigan Tech, who is participating in the project. “In the olden days, you’d only see solar farms in places like Arizona, and Spain. Now, large solar installations are found throughout the northern US and Canada.”
Meanwhile, KRC plans to apply the lessons learned from the test solar panels in its own back yard. “Michigan Tech will be going full bore on stopping snow losses,” said KRC Director Jay Meldrum.
In addition, KRC is testing another method to boost its solar power generation. They will be adjusting the panels' angles throughout the year to track the seasonal position of the sun, which is close to the horizon in winter and nearly directly overhead at the summer solstice. "Pointing the array at the proper altitude can help to maximize energy generation while reducing snow losses," Meldrum said. You can view both tests on the KRC webcams.Marcia Goodrich, writer, email@example.com, 906-487-2343
Marcia Goodrich | Newswise
The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change
17.11.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Win-win strategies for climate and food security
02.10.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...
Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.
That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...
Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....
The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.
Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...
Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...
15.11.2017 | Event News
15.11.2017 | Event News
30.10.2017 | Event News
20.11.2017 | Earth Sciences
20.11.2017 | Earth Sciences
20.11.2017 | Life Sciences