Cost of electricity production from solar panels has improved significantly over the last decade due to the improvement in the performance of solar photovoltaic cells (PVs) as well as many other factors: reduced cost of materials and fabrication of solar panels, increased demand, and large volume production of solar panels. Such a trend is expected to accelerate with the availability of a new generation of improved Li-Ion battery storage systems, and recent efforts to integrate such storage systems with PV solar panels to stabilize the supply and demand fluctuations throughout the day. Lithium-ion batteries are becoming increasingly popular as an option for energy storage for integration with the renewable power generation system like solar panels, and making the solar power system more attractive and affordable for rural communities.
This IPRO project is focused on the design and development of a smart roof-top PV solar panel power generation system with an integrated Li-Ion battery storage system for a single family rural house. The objective is to integrate the solar panels to charge the battery storage system when excess power is available during peak hours of solar incident radiation. During off-peak hours in the evening or early morning, the battery will discharge and meet power needs and/or supply the local electric grid. A smart monitoring system based on Internet-of-Things (IoT) and wireless sensor technology will be designed, fabricated and evaluated.
In the first semester of this project for spring 2018, the IPRO team members focus on identifying a rural house as a testbed for developing a solar- battery integrated power system. Both technical and economic feasibility ae performed based on an estimate of the hourly power demands of the house using a house load analysis model. State-of-the-art PV solar cells/panels and a battery storage system are identified for integration. The battery storage system is designed and analyzed using a simulation model, introducing a range of charge and discharge rates associated with solar panel power generation rates and the associated load cycle, and under varying environmental conditions. Issues such as thermal run-away, safety and environmental concerns are addressed. In order to ensure an efficient and safe operation of the battery storage, a smart IoT system will be considered.
In the second semester of this project for fall 2018, an IPRO team will evaluate the electro-chemical as well as thermal heat generation and temperature variations in the storage system for the solar panel load cycle. The solar panels will be integrated with a battery storage system and the performance of the integrated solar+battery system will be analyzed over a range of rural communities and load conditions. The group will finalize the design through a system level simulation of the solar panel-battery storage system and all auxiliary equipment including wireless sensors, meters, and transmitter/receiver for integration with the house electrical system and associated grid. Mobile application software will be developed to support convenient, efficient and safe operation, as well as continuous monitoring of the solar panel-battery storage system.