Adapting solar controllers to Canada’s harsh climate

Various types of controllers that track the sun and optimize energy production are offered on the market for use in photovoltaic (PV) systems.

  • Commercial programmable logic controllers (PLCs)
  • Electronic platforms such as Arduino and Raspberry PI
  • Controllers included in turn-key tracking systems

However, it appears that some of these controllers are incapable of withstanding the rigours of the Canadian winter, which results in damaged equipment and power outages.

The SmartEnergy Company designs, tests and manufactures its own solar trackers. In the context of a project being carried out with Nergica, The SmartEnergy Company will increase the solar tracking capabilities of its PV system by developing features that allow for various configurations such as seasonal tilt of PV panels, wind storm protection and snow-removal modes. These new parameters will allow solar panels and controllers to withstand harsh climate conditions.

Nergica will support The SmartEnergy Company by providing technical assistance for the development and programming of an electronic platform that will serve as a controller for the company’s solar tracking system. Nergica will notably implement Internet of Things (IoT) technology in the controller, which will allow raw data to be collected, processed and transferred to another platform for more in-depth analysis. Using IoT technology will enable The SmartEnergy Company to better analyze its data and produce significant information on performance, technical availability and opportunities for improvement of the system.

This one-year project has received $25,000 in funding by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

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