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Simulation Tools for Renewable Energy Projects

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Alternative Energy Laboratory Experiences

Tagged Division

Energy Conversion and Conservation

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1297.1 - 22.1297.13



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Paper Authors


Kendrick T. Aung Lamar University

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Kendrick Aung is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Lamar University. He received his Ph.D. degree in Aerospace Engineering from University of Michigan in 1996. He is an active member of ASEE, ASME, AIAA. ASHRAE, SAE and Combustion Institute. He has published over 70 technical papers and presented several papers at national and international conferences.

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Simulation tools for renewable energy projectsAbstract In recent years, renewable energy resources have become significant contributorsto energy usage among both developed and developing countries. New textbooks dealingwith alternative and renewable energy resources have been published recently [1, 2].Many universities have also started offering classes on renewable and alternative energycourse to both undergraduate and graduate students. Simulation and analysis tools onthese alternative energy resources may be useful in conducting these classes. This papercompares some of these simulation tools and evaluates their effectiveness based on theiruse during an elective course at ------ University. During the course, the students arerequired to complete a design project on one of the renewable energy sources such assolar, wind, and geothermal. Some of the simulation tools considered in this paper includes Solar AdvisorModel (SAM) from National renewable Energy Lab (NREL), RETScreen software fromNatural Resources Canada, and PolySun from Vela Solaris. The first two tools, based onMicrosoft Excel, are freely available while PolySun is a commercial product. SAMcombines a detailed performance model with several financing options for most solartechnologies [3]. The RETScreen software can be used to evaluate the energy productionand savings, costs, and other aspects for various types of Renewable-energy and Energy-efficient Technologies (RETs) [4]. PolySun is a software that enables users to effectivelysimulate solar-thermal, photovoltaic and geothermal systems [5]. Several sample projects on photovoltaic, wind energy, solar water heating andgeothermal energy systems were modeled and simulated using these software tools. Thecomparison and evaluation were done based on various aspects of these tools such asmodeling, product databases, validation, and economic analysis. All software toolsprovide effective modeling and simulation capabilities suitable for class room use.References[1] Hodges, B. K., “Alternative Energy Systems,” John Wiley & Sons, New York, 2009.[2] Kutz, M., “Environmentally Conscious Alternative Energy Production,” John Wiley& Sons, New York, 2007.[3] Gilman, P., Blair, N., Mehos, M., Christensen, C., Janzou, S., and Cameron, C.,“Solar Advisor Model User Guide for Version 2.0,” NREL Report No. TP-670-43704,2008.[4] Leng, G. J., Monarque, A., Graham, S., Higgins, S., and Cleghorn, H., “RETScreenInternational, Results and Impacts: 1996-2012,” Minister of National Resources, Canada,2004.[5] Vela Solaris, “PolySun User Manual,” 2009.

Aung, K. T. (2011, June), Simulation Tools for Renewable Energy Projects Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18570

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