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Algorithm improves solar efficiency

CANADA – Researchers at the University of Waterloo have developed an algorithm which makes solar photovoltaic (PV) systems more efficient.

“We’ve developed an algorithm to further boost the power extracted from an existing solar panel. Hardware in every solar panel has some nominal efficiency, but there should be some appropriate controller that can get maximum power out of solar panels,” explained Milad Farsi, a PhD candidate in Waterloo’s Department of Applied Mathematics. “We do not change the hardware or require additional circuits in the solar PV system. What we developed is a better approach to controlling the hardware that already exists.”

Savings the team simulated for a small home-use solar array would have a major impact if rolled out at scale.

“Taking Canada’s largest PV plant, for example, the Sarnia Photovoltaic Power Plant, if this technique is used, the savings could amount to 960,000 kWh/year, which is enough to power hundreds of households. If the saved energy were to be generated by a coal-fired plant, it would require emission of 312 tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere,” added Farsi.

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