• University of Waterloo researchers have developed an algorithm for hardware of the solar system to better deal with fluctuations around maximum power point
  • It can be incorporated within existing hardware without the need for changing the hardware or adding additional circuits
  • This algorithm can help save power that otherwise goes waste due to fluctuations and can help large-scale systems

A team of researchers at the University of Waterloo in Canada have figured out an algorithm to enable controllers to better deal with fluctuations around the maximum power point of a solar PV system that can help increase its efficiency. Their study titled Nonlinear Optimal Feedback Control and Stability Analysis of Solar Photovoltaic Systems has been published in the journal IEEE Transactions on Control Systems Technology.

Lack of effective controls in the hardware of a solar system can reduce the volume of power that currently goes to waste. The team developed the algorithm within the hardware of the system without changing the hardware itself or without adding additional circuits.

This approach can save up to 138.9 kWh annually for a small home-use solar array including 12 modules of 335 W, according to Professor Jun Lui and Milad Farsi, PhD candidate of the Department of Applied Mathematics at the university.

“The savings may not seem significant for a small home-use solar system but could make a substantial difference in larger-scale ones, such as a solar farm or in an area including hundreds of thousands of local solar panels connected to the power grid,” explained Farsi. For a large-scale solar plant as 97 MW Sarnia project in Canada, the technique could save around 960,000 kWh annually, they estimate and add, can then be used to power hundreds of households.

Savings could go up when a fast-changing ambient environment is taken into account or when the power loss in the converters due to undesired chattering effects seen in other conventional control methods is taken into account.