2 Minutes with Audrey C. Kertesz
August 30, 2011
In the quest to generate clean, inexpensive solar energy, installations of photovoltaic (PV) systems are on the rise. University of Toronto graduate student Audrey Kertesz is exploring ways to optimize the performance of urban-based solar panel arrays by designing better control systems.
|Audrey C. Kertesz||
I certainly don't need to expound the virtues of renewable energy because that's very much in the popular mind but among renewable energy sources, solar panels are unique in that they can be installed on a small scale in urban installations as opposed to, you know, a huge wind farm or a solar out in a field somewhere. But these urban installations pose unique challenges for solar panels. The challenge arises when you connect all of these guys in series at the length of a panel. They're all forced to share a common operating point but if these operate in an urban environment and there's uneven shading on the panel, then the maximum power points of neighbouring cells will differ and the power output of the whole panel will drop.
So the goal of my work is to implement a local control, a distributed control algorithm that allows the power points of each cell to be controlled independently or at least in blocks, thereby allowing urban installations which are subject to complex patterns of shade from neighbouring buildings or trees or what have you to operate at improved efficiency.
I hope that my work and the work of my colleagues can help overcome some of these challenges and make urban installations of solar panels much more widespread.