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Design and Simulation of a Sun Tracking Solar Power System

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

NSF Grantees' Poster Session

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.373.1 - 23.373.7



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Paper Authors


Liping Guo Northern Illinois University

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Dr. Liping Guo received his B.E. in Automatic Control from the Beijing Institute of Technology at Beijing, China in 1997. She earned her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Auburn University in 2001 and 2006, respectively. She is currently an assistant professor in the Electrical Engineering Technology program in the Technology Department at the Northern Illinois University. Her research and teaching interests are in the areas of power electronics, renewable energy, embedded systems and automatic control. Dr. Guo is a senior member of the IEEE and a member of the ASEE.

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Jingbo Han Northern Illinois University

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Jingbo Han earned the M.S in Electrical Engineering from Northern Illinois University in 2010.

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Andrew Wasonga Otieno Associate Professor

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Dr. Andrew W. Otieno is an associate professor in the Department of Technology at Northern Illinois University. He holds a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Leeds University in the United Kingdom. Dr. Otieno has worked in various capacities at several institutions both in the United States and abroad. Since joining the Department of Technology, Dr. Otieno has actively participated in curriculum development. He has extensively revised and developed new labs in the area of manufacturing engineering, including an automation laboratory in the department. His research interests include structural health monitoring, finite element modeling, machining processes, eco-machining, machine vision applications in tool wear monitoring and micro-machining processes. He has experience in hardware/software interfacing with special applications in machine vision and PLC. He is a member of the ASEE, ASME, EWB and SME. Dr. Otieno has published several articles in the areas of machine vision applications, structural health monitoring, eco-machining, modeling of machining processes and manufacturing education.

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Design and Simulation of a Sun Tracking Solar Power System Global energy consumption is dramatically increasing due to higher standard of living andthe increasing world population. The world has limited fossil and oil resources. As aconsequence, the need for renewable energy sources becomes more urgent. Renewable energy resources such as solar and wind power have experienced rapid growth inthe past decade. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) reports that the U.S. solarenergy industry’s total market value grew 67% from $3.6 billion in 2009 to $6.0 billion in 2010. With the fast development of renewable energy technology, it proposes increasing demandfor the higher education. Existing curriculum in engineering technology lacks components inrenewable energy. Courses in renewable energy are not tightly coupled with laboratories. Thisproject is funded by the National Science Foundation Transforming Undergraduate Education inSTEM (TUES) program from May 2012 to April 2015. As part of the objectives of the project, asun tracking solar power system will be designed and developed as a teaching tool for thelaboratory. A majority of solar panels in use today are stationary and therefore do not output themaximum amount of power that they can actually produce. This paper describes theMatlab/Simulink simulation of a sun tracking solar power system. The simulation will be usedfor demonstration and experiments to help the students study theory of the system. The solartracker follows the sun from east to west during the day. More energy is collected by controllingthe solar panel to follow the sun like a sunflower. After simulation is complete, a physical systemwill be implemented. The simulation is realized on Matlab/Simulink platform. The simulation consists of fourmodules: PV sensors, signal conditioning circuit, controller, and motor. PV sensors detect lightintensity and convert it into current. Two PV sensors work as angle detectors. They are mountedon two 45 degree wedges to detect the exact angle in which the main solar panel must face togain maximum power output. The current is amplified using the signal conditioning circuit, andsent to the microcontroller. The microcontroller uses different control algorithms to generate asignal to control the motor to rotate the main solar panel perpendicular to the sun. An embeddedMatlab function simulate the control algorithm and mathematically generate PWM signal todrive the motor. Finally, the motor module consists of a stepper motor and motor drive. Themotor module generates mechanical movement of rotation in terms of angle. The simulationprovides an excellent platform for undergraduate engineering technology students to study a suntracking solar power system.Abstract submitted to the 2013 Annual Conference of American Society of Engineering Education

Guo, L., & Han, J., & Otieno, A. W. (2013, June), Design and Simulation of a Sun Tracking Solar Power System Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19387

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