A group of researchers at the Sandia National Laboratories found a new way to predict and prepare for fluctuations in electricity generation due to changes in weather – cold, heat, clouds and airborne dust.
They have developed a new system capable to monitor how clouds affect large-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) farms.
“Our goal is to get to the point where we can predict wha’s going to happen at larger scale plants as they go toward hundreds of megawatts,” says Sandia researcher Scott Kuszmaul.
Currently, the system is installed at the 1.2-megawatt La Ola Solar Farm on the Hawaiian island of Lana’i to observe cloud shapes, movement and size. The green farm generates up to 30 percent of Hawaii’s peak electric demand.
Researchers have also connected about 24 small sensors to the farm’s solar panels (made by Sunpower) which transmit data using a radio frequency network. Sandia’s engineers claim the sensors take readings at one-second intervals.