From UDaily: solar panel shines a light on an energy source


The Institute of Energy Conversion at the University of Delaware has been a leader in solar energy research for nearly half a century. Today, for the first time, it has a functional photovoltaic field in its premises – a state-of-the-art installation managed with the advanced technology of an energy pole.

The project, led by Steven Hegedus, professor of electrical and computer engineering and senior scientist at IEC, relied on alumni donations, state agency grants, partnerships with solar companies and the efforts of the students.

The network includes 12 solar panels, each with 72 “bifacial” solar cells. Bifacial cells pick up sunlight from above, as well as any light reflected from the ground. The network has two sensors facing the sun, three facing the ground. Each of the 12 modules has its own power optimizer, which allows for optimal performance even if the next module is in the shade.

And while the bay has a relatively small footprint outside IEC’s headquarters in Newark – its dimensions are approximately 12 feet by 20 feet – it offers significant new opportunities for researchers and students.

Already, barely in its fifth month of existence, it has impressive credits, including a job for a recent UD graduate and a growing body of data on the performance of bifacial solar cells and how an energy hub manages the electricity produced.

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