Researchers Develop an Algorithm that Can Improve the Efficiency of Solar Panels

The algorithm decreases the amount of energy that is dissipated because of an inadequate ability of the panels to harness most of the incident radiation

September 4, 2019


In an important technological development, the researchers at the University of Waterloo have developed a method to better utilize the amount of energy that’s collected by solar panels.

“We’ve developed an algorithm to further boost the power extracted from an existing solar panel. Hardware in every solar panel has some nominal efficiency, but there should be some appropriate controller that can get maximum power out of solar panels. We do not change the hardware or require additional circuits in the solar PV system. What we developed is a better approach to controlling the hardware that already exists,” said Milad Farsi, a PhD candidate in Waterloo’s Department of Applied Mathematics.

The researchers have come up with an algorithm that improves the efficiency of solar installations. This innovation decreases the amount of energy that is dissipated because of an inadequate ability of the panels to harness most of the incident radiation.

“Based on the simulations, for a small home-use solar array including 12 modules of 335 W, up to 138.9 kWh/year can be saved. The savings may not seem significant for a small home-use solar system but could make a substantial difference in larger-scale ones, such as a solar farm or in an area including hundreds of thousands of local solar panels connected to the power grid. Taking Canada’s largest PV project, for example, the Sarnia Photovoltaic Power Plant, if this technique is used, the savings could amount to 960,000 kWh/year, which is enough to power hundreds of households. If the saved energy were to be generated by a coal-fired project, it would require the emission of 312 tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere,” said Farsi, who undertook the study with his supervisor, Professor Jun Liu of Waterloo’s Department of Applied Mathematics.

The new algorithm enables controllers to manage the flux in the maximum power point of an SPV system. A fast-charging environment will increase the power saving potential of the system. The study titled Nonlinear Optimal Feedback Control and Stability Analysis of Solar Photovoltaic Systems, by Waterloo’s Faculty of Mathematics researchers, Farsi and Liu was published in the journal IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) Transactions of Control Systems Technology.

Recently, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and other institutions came out with a new class of liquids that will enhance the efficiency and stability of supercapacitors. They have also developed a method to reduce the flammability of these devices.

Earlier, the University of Birmingham and the International Solar Alliance joined hands to assist farmers with cold storage systems to increase the life of produce transported and in turn impact livelihood. The chilled food distribution systems are set up using solar and solar-hybrid technologies.

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Ramya Ranganath is an Associate Editor and Writer for Mercom Communications India. Before joining Mercom, Ramya worked as a Senior Editor at a digital media supply chain solutions company. Throughout her career, she has developed end-to-end content for various companies in a wide range of domains, including renewables. Ramya holds a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from M.S. Ramaiah Institute of Technology and is passionate about environmental issues and permaculture.