Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists of the University of Graz have developed a tool to make optimum use of solar energy

10.03.2015

Photovoltaics is the only form of renewable energy that is able to cover today’s global energy demand and can even do so many times over. The diurnal cycle and the cycle of the seasons, however, mean that photovoltaics is unable to provide a constant power supply in one location.

Ao.Univ.-Prof. Dr. Karl Steininger from the Institute of Economics and the Wegener Center of the University of Graz and his team have developed an analysis tool that helps to make solar power available efficiently and constantly. The paper has just been published in the renowned Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Real weather values

“We determined the real solar radiation at 270 global sites by analysing the insolation shown for these sites in the NASA data of the past twenty years and transferring them to hourly values”, Steininger says. The scientists took this data as their starting point to derive the production capacity a photovoltaics plant of a given size would have at a certain time. “By means of our tool we are able to determine what combinations of panel surface and storage capacity make sense from an economic perspective”, the economist explains.

In order to supply the minimum energy required, the plants are either dimensioned large enough to produce sufficient electricity even in overcast conditions or when insolation levels are low during winter, or the storage capacities are of such vast dimensions that seasonal and/or bad weather losses can be evened out.

“The price of the modules is currently declining more rapidly than the price of storage systems which makes larger photovoltaic surfaces often the more logical choice”, the expert says. And space is certainly not a problem. Steininger: “It would take a mere two percent of the world’s desert areas to supply the whole world with energy at its current demand level.”

The new analytical tool also helps to combine several photovoltaic plants at different global sites in an economically efficient manner. “If we combine sufficiently remote eastern and western sites, there will always be daytime somewhere in the grid and the excess energy can be transmitted to the places where the sun is not above the horizon.” The same is true for a combination of sites on the northern and southern hemisphere. “In summer, Austria is able to produce four times the solar energy volume it can generate in winter”, Steininger says. Transmission costs are currently significantly lower than storage costs.

Efficient management

The tool is also very useful for energy suppliers inasmuch as it allows them to respond to current weather situations and use their own photovoltaic systems in an optimum manner. The technologies for storing the generated electrical power differ in price and efficiency. When clouds are forecast plant managers could activate additional storage for example, and thus save the costs of storage in lasting high-pressure periods.

Steininger and his team have used a theoretical concept of “isolines” from economics for this interdisciplinary application. The concept ensures a constant output level and has been demonstrated to be of practical value for economic optimization here in situations of variable conditions of solar insolation.

For inquiries please contact:
Ao.Univ.-Prof. Dr. Karl Steininger
Institute of Economics and Wegener Center for Climate and Global Change
Universitity of Graz
Phone: +43 664 8463147
E-Mail: karl.steininger@uni-graz.at

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2015/03/06/1316781112

Mag. Gudrun Pichler | Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz
Further information:
http://www.uni-graz.at

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht How protons move through a fuel cell
22.06.2017 | Empa - Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt

nachricht Fraunhofer IZFP acquires lucrative EU project for increasing nuclear power plant safety
21.06.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Zerstörungsfreie Prüfverfahren IZFP

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>