Design and development of a monitoring station for the long-term investigation of dust pollution effects on the performance of PV panels

Ndapuka, Andreas Tangeni (2015-12)

Thesis (MEng)--Stellenbosch University, 2015.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The past decade has seen impressive growth of the photovoltaic solar power industry as a response to increased global energy demand and a quest for sustainable energy supply. It is necessary to understand the natural challenges that are affecting this industry to promote efficient and economic use of solar power in South Africa and elsewhere. Photovoltaic modules are widely regarded as maintenance-free power generators or are often marketed as such. While this might particularly be true for most of the small rooftop installations, the same cannot be said about large photovoltaic power plants. Large photovoltaic plants have to be continuously monitored and corrective measures must be taken in a timeously manner if they are to ensure maximum power yield. The challenges facing solar PV installations vary from place to place. In dry and semi-arid areas (like in large areas in South Africa), dust pollution is one of the most serious challenges that large PV plants have to battle with and is thus a research area of interest. While the effect of dust pollution on the yield of solar panels have been confirmed and documented in the Middle East and North African (MENA) regions, studies on this crucial aspect in the region of Sub-Saharan Africa are particularly rare. In this project, a monitoring station has been developed for long-term monitoring of dust pollution and its effects on the performance of PV modules. It may also be used in future to aid in the forecasting and planning of cleaning needs and costs for a particular site. The station is pole mounted and consists of two identical solar panels, two active loads to load the panels as desired, a maximum power point tracker that serves as a battery charger for a 12V battery, and a control system for the operation of the station and communication to external devices or systems. The station was designed to collect data (e.g. panel voltage, current, temperatures and current-voltage curve) which can be accessed via different means for analysis. Collection of the data may be scheduled to be taken at intervals from 1 minute up to 60 minutes. It is shown that the various subsystems were developed successfully and that it forms a good base for a pole mounted monitoring station for long-term monitoring of dust pollution.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die afgelope dekade was daar indrukwekkende groei in die fotovoltaïese sonkrag industrie in reaksie op die toename in globale energieaanvraag en in die soeke na volhoubare energietoevoer. Dit is noodsaaklik om die natuurlike uitdagings wat hierdie industrie beïnvloed te verstaan ten einde die doeltreffende en ekonomiese aanwending van sonkrag in Suid-Afrika en elders te bevorder. Fotovoltaïese modules word wyd gereken as onderhoudsvrye gratis generators van krag of word dikwels bemark as sodanig. Terwyl dit in besonder waar mag wees vir die meeste klein dakgebasseerde installasies, kan dieselfde nie gesê word vir groot fotovoltaïese sonkragaanlegte nie. Groot fotovoltaïese aanlegte moet deurlopend gemoniteer word en regstellende maatreëls moet tydig geneem word om maksimum energieopbrengs te verseker. Die uitdagings wat fotovoltaïese sonkragaanlegte in die gesig staar varieer van plek tot plek. In droë halfwoestyn areas (soos in groot dele van Suid-Afrika) is stofbesoedeling een van die mees ernstige uitdagings wat oorkom moet word en is daarom ’n navorsingsarea van belang. Terwyl die uitwerking van stofbesoedeling op die opbrengs van sonpanele bevestig en gedokumenteer is vir die Midde-Oosterse – en Noord-Afrikaanse streke (Eng: MENA), is studies oor hierdie kritieke aspek besonder skaars vir die Sub-Sahara streek van Afrika. In hierdie projek is ’n moniteringstasie ontwikkel vir die langtermynmonitering van stofbesoedeling en die uitwerking daarvan op die werkverrigting van fotovoltaïese modules. Dit mag ook gebruik word in die toekoms om te help met die voorspelling en beplanning van skoonmaakbehoeftes and –koste vir ’n bepaalde terrein. Die stasie is paalgemonteer en bestaan uit twee identiese sonpanele, twee aktiewe laste om die panele te belas soos verlang, ’n maksimumdrywingspuntvolger wat dien as batterylaaier ’n 12V battery, en ’n beheerstelsel om die stasie te bedryf en om met eksterne toestelle of stelsels te kommunikeer. Die stasie is ontwerp om data in te samel (bv. paneelspanning, -stroom, -temperatuur en stroom-spanningskromme) wat weer toeganklik is via verskillende maniere vir analise. Insameling van die data mag geskeduleer word om geneem word met vanaf 1 minuut intervalle tot en met 60 minuut intervalle. Daar word getoon dat die verskeie substelsels suksesvol ontwikkel is en dat dit ’n goeie basis vorm vir ’n paalgemonteerde moniteringstasie vir die langtermynmonitering van stofbesoedeling.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/97823
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