National Renewable Energy Laboratory Study Already Finding System Construction May Need to Change in Cold Weather States
BOULDER, Colo. – July 12, 2011 – AlsoEnergy and the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) today announced key findings after completing the first year of a two-year study on the impact of snow and ice on photovoltaic system performance. The purpose of the study is to determine how snow and ice impacts a PV system and using the data collected to determine ways to maintain optimal system performance. The study is being conducted at six solar installation sites.
Initial findings from the study indicate that rooftop solar systems, even when placed at a pitch, may suffer wintertime performance issues in states that receive significant snowfall.
The NREL study used AlsoEnergy's performance monitoring software to measure snow depth, speed of snow melt, humidity levels, temperature, solar radiation, PV performance data and digital imagery of the PV arrays to monitor the systemwide performance of solar installation sites near Boulder, Colo. from November 2010 through March 2011. The study will be conducted again in the 2011-2012 winter months for comparison before being completed.
"We don't usually work with energy monitoring software because we need a high degree of customization within the data sets for us to use the information effectively," said NREL's Principal Scientist of PV Modules and Systems, Bill Marion. "AlsoEnergy offered the level of customization that we needed."
For example, Marion said, surveillance cameras allowed researchers to see that pitched solar systems installed on rooftops still lost performance after heavy snowfalls because even though the snow was sliding off the panels, it was piling up on the rooftop and creating a dam that prevented the snow melting off of the solar system. Panels installed on the ground did not have that same issue. Panels installed on flat roofs completely lost their performance when covered with snow.
"This study will probably lead to guidelines on how to mount modules to maximize the amount of snow fall off," Marion said.
Marion expects that after next winter, NREL should have a clear picture of how to mitigate the impact of snow and ice on a solar system.
"We are pleased to be part of this important partnership that potentially could play a role in how future solar systems are developed in cold weather states," said AlsoEnergy CEO Robert Schaefer. "AlsoEnergy's real-time monitoring technology helps make it possible to understand how to best deliver cost-competitive solar energy in the growing field of renewable energy."
AlsoEnergy will demonstrate its solar performance monitoring software at the Intersolar North America show July 12-14 in San Francisco in booth #7863.
Based in Boulder, AlsoEnergy provides the most comprehensive energy monitoring and financial management software solutions for renewable energy developers, manufacturers and investors who are establishing today's clean-tech industry standards and best practices. From residential and government to commercial and utility grade applications, AlsoEnergy's technology platform increases business results with online access to critical cost and production data. With the industry's only complete client-customized web application, AlsoEnergy's unique architecture and price point reduce risk, improve energy supply chain transparency and bring strategic vision to energy portfolio administration and the global clean-tech marketplace. For information, visit www.AlsoEnergy.com.