Friday, March 12, 2010

When Solar Meets Shade

Large-scale integration of solar into the power grid will requrire solutions to the complications that arise when clouds pass over solar panels and trigger transint drops in generated electricity.

Environmental engineering professor Jan Kleissl from the MAE Department at the Jacobs School recently won an approximately $500,000 grant to address related issues. In particular, he is working on models for predicting when these cloud-triggered power drops will occur.

“Once a cloud arrives, the power output from our photovoltaic panels can decrease 40 to 80 percent within a few seconds, and when the cloud leaves the power output increases just as dramatically,” said Kleissl. “Utilities and operators of large power plants want to be able to predict the timing of these transitions so that they can charge up energy storage systems in advance to ‘smooth’ the clear-cloudy transition or prepare other generation to make up for the lost solar power.”

Read all about the new grant, the new project, and a wealth of background information in the story "How to Manage California’s Alternative Energy Grid When the Sun Doesn’t Shine" by Rex Graham, linked from the UC San Diego sustainability Web site.

Update: An LA Times story today highlights this work: "State regulators approve $9 million in solar research grants, PG&E solar contract"

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