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Development of the photovoltaic training facility on the engineering and energy building

De Hoog, Luke (2013) Development of the photovoltaic training facility on the engineering and energy building. Other thesis, Murdoch University.

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Solar energy is an abundant resource, especially in Australia. While increasing numbers of households, businesses and utility companies are installing photovoltaics to combat climate change and ever increasing power bills, network operators are having to deal with the problems this can cause such as voltage rise and other power quality issues. Monitoring of PV systems is becoming increasingly more important in addressing such issues, as is localised environmental monitoring. Utilising different sensors to measure solar radiation, ambient temperature and wind speed, network operators are better able to predict and react to environmental changes which can affect the output of PV systems.

This report focuses on the installation of an environmental and PV inverter monitoring system for the Photovoltaic Training Facility on the Engineering and Energy Building at Murdoch University. This work follows on from that of Stuart Kempin who designed and managed the installation of the PV Training Facility and Mael Riou who designed much of the environmental monitoring system.

The environmental monitoring system consists of two anemometers, a wind vane, an ambient temperature sensor, two pyranometers (one mounted horizontally and one mounted on the plane of the PV array) and RTD temperature sensors for PV module temperature measurement. The communication interface for these sensors incorporates I/O modules from Avantech’s ADAM 4000 series and communicates via RS485 with a computer running the LabView programming software for monitoring and logging purposes. Design work for the environmental monitoring system is now complete, including specifications and drawings for the mounting brackets.

For monitoring the PV inverters, serial communication is also utilised. Where required, each inverter is fitted with a serial communication card which is wired to the same computer used for environmental monitoring via an RS485 to USB adapter. Again, the LabView programming software is used to monitor the inverters. All physical aspects of the inverter monitoring system have been completed. This includes the selection and acquisition of a suitable computer interface along with enclosure design and construction to suit. Installation of serial communication cards in the inverters and wiring and connection of the inverters has also been completed.

Several smaller assignments were also undertaken over the course of the project such as the review of technical diagrams provided by the installer of the PV Training Facility and testing of the SMA Backup system to ensure correct functionality. Some background information on the functional earthing of PV arrays is given and discussed in relation to the PV Training Facility. Unfortunately, 3 final schematic diagrams of the system have not yet been obtained however sections of the actual system configuration including the functional earthing arrangement have been confirmed.

The eventual goal of the system is to provide a solid, safe and informative teaching platform which can be used in the future to educate students on the role such monitoring systems may have in real-world scenarios. It is also planned to utilise the system to compare PV technologies and inverter topologies and their reactions under different environmental conditions.

Item Type: Thesis (Other)
Supervisor(s): Calais, Martina
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