‘A big achievement’ in green energy
A team of graduate students and a mechanical engineering professor at Memorial University have published research that could have “global application” in power generation.
Professor Anand Sharan has been studying solar power for decades. During the winter semester, he had an idea for three of his graduate students to research improvements to a solar power generation machine he patented in 1997.
The machine tilts with the sun to access the most solar energy, and now Sharan and his students have figured out a way to control it wirelessly.
He said this most recent research paves the way to control power generation of electricity in a solar park located anywhere, from any point on Earth.
“That you can control it from one place is a big achievement,” he said, and suggested a control room in St. John’s could operate solar panels anywhere in the world.
Solar parks cover large areas and have numerous panels, so they can be labour intensive to maintain, the group said. They aimed to overcome that inefficiency with their research.
“There is no hardware, laying out lines and all that, (this research) circumvents all the huge problems that are there,” said Sharan.
His graduate students said the wireless technology ensures any faults in the equipment are also more readily identified.
“If the operator is sitting in his room drinking coffee and he doesn’t care about the panel, there is an alarm going on and saying, OK, come here and fix this,” said Mohammad Zamanlou, one of Sharan’s students.
The research was done in the basement of the engineering building at Memorial, where the students spent many hours in an electrical lab. It was published in April in the International Journal of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
Sharan said the next step for him is to make people more familiar with solar power and encourage its use to a greater extent – something he’s been encouraging for decades. To that end, he says electrical power generation using solar energy is proving to be cheaper than oil based power generation, partly because the cost of solar panels has decreased in recent years.