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Design and installation of a Sky-camera network and data acquisition system for intra-hour solar irradiance and photovoltaic system output forecasting

Roy, Joseph Claude Eric (2016) Design and installation of a Sky-camera network and data acquisition system for intra-hour solar irradiance and photovoltaic system output forecasting. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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Murdoch University is enabling research in the area of intra-hour solar irradiance and photovoltaic (PV) system output forecasting by installing a stereo vision capable Sky-camera network and system. This research is being led by Dr Martina Calais and is in collaboration with the University of Oldenburg Solar Energy Meteorology Group.

This document describes the process of designing and installation of Sky-camera equipment, and along with its network and data acquisition system. Two Sky-camera locations had already been identified on campus as suitable, by having few occluding objects in the Sky-camera’s field-of-view, a power and network connection, as well as being near a data acquisition system that can obtain PV power output and meteorological data.

The first location, on the top rail of a PV array on the roof of the Engineering and Energy Building, was found to be marginally suitable due to tall trees and an elevator shaft. However, a different location on this roof was chosen even though it required a greater installation effort. The second Sky-camera location in the Renewable Energy Outdoor Test Area, offered a much simpler installation process but lacked of an Ethernet access point. This required a wireless bridge to be installed and configured.

The design of all custom made hardware for this project was accomplished using the Autodesk Inventor® software suite, and then fabricated with the help of Murdoch University technical staff and using in-house facilities. Networking all the Sky-camera equipment, the recreation of Python codes into LabVIEW codes and changing a Linux Server to a Windows Server caused the largest deviation from the original project plan. However, this led to the development of a different data acquisition (DAQ) system program architecture that is anticipated to provide a more favorable data availability rate. Other additional works that were outside the immediate scope includes; the creation of a custom made Sky-camera image editing software for creating binary mask images and the assembly of a Solys2 solar taker.

The overall Sky-camera network installation was successful and is now in a state that allows research to begin. It is envisaged that the knowledge obtained through this project and following projects will lead to the implementation of short term solar forecasting systems in remote diesel networks.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Engineering and Information Technology
Supervisor(s): Calais, Martina
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