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Solar Panel Efficacy vs. Altitude in an Urban City Environment

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Conference

2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015

ISBN

978-0-692-50180-1

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

ECCD Innovative Teaching Applications

Tagged Division

Energy Conversion and Conservation

Page Count

14

Page Numbers

26.1381.1 - 26.1381.14

DOI

10.18260/p.24718

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/24718

Download Count

69

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Paper Authors

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Wiaam Yasser Elkhatib Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS) IUPUI Chapter

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Wiaam Y. Elkhatib is a biomedical engineering student and aspiring physician-engineer at Purdue University, Indianapolis. Wiaam’s research with the Richard G. Lugar Center for Renewable Energy quantitates photovoltaic efficacy in urban environments, while as an intern through the Indiana University School of Medicine, he evaluates the musculoskeletal effects of various chronic kidney disease interventions. An avid campus educator and leader, Wiaam serves as president of both the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS) and Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) chapters. He is also an academic success mentor who facilitates incoming university students in achieving educational fulfillment while encouraging involvement with undergraduate campus research.

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Peter J. Schubert Indiana University Purdue University, Indianapolis

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Schubert is a Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and serves as the Director of the Richard G. Lugar Center for Renewable Energy (www.lugarenergycenter.org) and the faculty advisor for Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS) at IUPUI. He holds 40 US Patents, a Professional Engineering License (Illinois), and has published over 90 technical papers and book chapters. Schubert has managed research projects from USDA, NASA, DOE, and DoD.

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Steven Anthony Zusack Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis

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Mechanical Engineering student. Current research includes renewable energy in the form of ethanol fuel cells and solar power. Aspirations of pursuing PhD in the field of Aerospace Engineering with a focus on Spacecraft Design.

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Emily Carol Rosales Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

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Emily Rosales is an undergraduate student at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, working on her bachelor’s degree in Energy Engineering. She is actively involved in student organizations including Students for the Exploration and Development of Space, The Student Sustainability Council, and The Society of Women Engineers and has also been named to the dean’s list for the Purdue School of Engineering and Technology. She graduated high school in Spring Lake Park, Minnesota and currently lives in Brownsburg, Indiana with her husband and two children.

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Austin C. Stanforth MS IUPUI

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Austin C. Stanforth is a Graduate Research Assistant with the Institute for Research on Social Issues (IRSI) and Department of Geography at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). He is a Doctoral Candidate in the Applied Earth Sciences program at IUPUI and holds a Master’s of Science degree in Geographic Information Science (MS GIS) from Indiana University. His research is focused on geospatial analysis of socioeconomic and environmental variables which are statistically identified as vulnerability indicators of heat-related illness, and improving spatially specific heat warning systems. His research interests are in remote sensing, image analysis, and geographic information sciences with particular attention paid to environmental sciences and anthropogenic interactions.

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Abstract

Solar Panel Efficacy vs. Altitude in an Urban City EnvironmentIn light of current issues of global warming, pollution, and fossil fuel depletion, alternative andrenewable energy sources are increasingly desired. Among these, solar energy is a popularoption. However, it is hypothesized that particulate pollution in urban atmospheres limitsphotovoltaic (PV) efficacy both in accumulated grime and also in altitude via sunlightattenuation. The objective of this study is to measure photovoltaic power output during solarnoon at multiple heights within a city environment to determine the influence of altitude onpower output. Building rooftops between 200 and 800 feet were sampled simultaneously with aground level control within a broad university courtyard. Days having zero cloud cover werechosen. Other factors to consider include the “urban heat island” effect and water vapor in theair, so environmental parameters were measured simultaneously to reduce any confoundingerrors. Multiple repeated tests were conducted to increase confidence, especially since the effectwas initially expected to be small. Comparisons in the data are drawn on a percentage basis toeliminate bias between the PV panels used for testing. Preliminary analysis indicates that theeffect of altitude is significant. The visually clear air of the city tested belies a relatively highconcentration of fine particulate matter, possibly leading to light dispersion, and therebylowering PV efficiency via the cosine rule. Analysis of our data provides quantitative measuresby which economic gain may be realized by installing solar panels at higher elevations within acity. This is believed to be a new result.

Elkhatib, W. Y., & Schubert, P. J., & Zusack, S. A., & Rosales, E. C., & Stanforth, A. C. (2015, June), Solar Panel Efficacy vs. Altitude in an Urban City Environment Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24718

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