Queen's leads development of cutting-edge solar panel testing facility
Sustainable energy experts from Queen’s University are leading a multi-partner project aimed at finding out how different weather conditions, including heavy snowfall, impact the effectiveness of solar panels.
“The solar photovoltaic industry around the world is growing at an unprecedented rate, but there’s very little available information shared about the performance of solar cells in different outdoor environments,” explains Joshua Pearce, the project’s lead researcher and a professor in the Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering. “This project is organized under open source principles, and when the data and analysis is complete, it will be made freely available to the entire photovoltaic community and the general public.”
The project’s test site, 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 very precise meteorological data. The OSOTF is one of the largest solar panel analysis systems of this type in the world.
Making this kind of data freely available means that anyone will be able to find out 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.
For more information about the OSOTF, please visit the website.
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.