Solar panel data to be made public
KAITLIN VITT, CONTRIBUTOR
The solar panels at the Exchange District Campus do more than look cool. For the first time, RRC staff are releasing collected data from the panels lining the third and fourth floors on the south side of the building.
“We want to make sure that the public and our students have access to these panels and understand what’s going on, “ said Haider Al-Saidi, the solar panel project leader and chair of the accounting and computer education department. “Part of it is to increase awareness about solar energy.”
Students and staff can watch real-time data from the solar panels on a TV on the fourth floor of the Princess Building. Backlogs of data will be available to the public online.
“That will help people, especially researchers, who would like to get more information and research the data and solar activities,” said Al-Saidi.
The data collected can be applied in many ways across different disciplines, like studying solar activities and how much solar exposure Winnipeg gets, said Al-Saidi.
“The other thing is to give some indication for researchers to investigate the possibilities of using solar energy in Winnipeg,” he said.
The solar panel structure is divided into six sections. Each section is connected to an inverter unit in the glass display on the fourth floor of EDC. The inverters convert the direct current (DC) produced by the solar panels to usable alternating current.
The inverters collect about 15 parameters, including current and voltage.
Currently, no students are working on the solar panel research, but Al-Saidi said several RRC programs like electrical engineering technology and instrumentation engineering technology can study the solar panel data.
“We are going to create a few projects for students out of it, so they can take it to the next step, ” said Al-Saidi. Projects may involve re-designing the current model or collecting more data.
The project itself wasn’t all sunshineand rainbows.
“Trying to get the old technology to work with the new can be a challenge,” said Katherine Coley, educational assistant with RRC’s accounting and computer education department and part of the solar panel project team.
The solar panels were installed in 2002. Al-Saidi said he isn’t positive why data from the solar panels weren’t released earlier because he wasn’t involved in the project initially. Public data will benefit the advancement of solar energy research if students, staff, and community members work on the project, he added.
The solar energy collected goes back into the grid, rather than powering something on campus, but Al-Saidi said the solar panel project team is thinking about what to use the energy for. One idea is to use the solar energy in a charging station for electric cars.