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UTPA Solar System Efficiency

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Projects in Alternative Energy: Wind and Solar

Tagged Division

Energy Conversion and Conservation

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1456.1 - 25.1456.12



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Paper Authors


Leonel Aguilera University of Texas, Pan American

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Leonel Aguilera earned his his B.S degree in electrical engineering from the Technology Institute of Saltillo, Coahuila, Mexico in 2006. He is currently a M.S. in electrical engineering student at the University of Texas, Pan American, in Edinburg, Texas. He is an active researcher with interests in networking
and renewable energy.

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Jaime Ramos-Salas P.E. University of Texas, Pan American

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Jaime Ramos, Assistant Professor, has been at The University of Texas Pan American since 2005, in the Department of Electrical Engineering. His research activities are directed towards the integration of renewable energy sources to the electric grid. He is the Principal Investigator for UTPA's three main solar facilities: the ENGR PV Fixed Array, the TXU Sun Tracking Arrays, and the Solar Observatory.
Ramos is a licensed Professional Engineer in the state of Texas and Chair of the Rio Grande Valley Chapter of IEEE Power & Energy Society. Before coming to Texas, he accumulated significant experience in manufacturing, consulting, and teaching electrical engineering courses. He obtained a Ph.D. in electrical engineering in 1976 from Stanford University. Ramos has been an educator since 1977 of national and international universities including the University of Texas, Pan American, Edinburg, Texas; Universidad Autónoma de La Laguna, Mexico; Instituto Tecnologico de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey; and Instituto Politécnico Nacional, Mexico.

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Sanjeev Kumar University of Texas, Pan American

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Sanjeev Kumar, Associate Professor, is active in research, development, and teaching in the areas of computer network security, high-speed internet switching/routing, wireless ad hoc networks, computer architecture, digital logic systems, and smart grid. Before joining UTPA, Kumar worked with the leading networking companies in the United States. In the networking industry, Kumar played a leading role in planning, research, and development of new communications equipment and networks. Kumar has authored more than 50 technical papers. Kumar’s research findings have been cited by other researchers in the field. Kumar has served as a member of technical program committee for international conferences and served on editorial board of several journals. He has been awarded U.S. and international patents for his inventions in the area of broadband networks. Kumar received the Ph.D. degree in computer engineering from North Carolina State University, Raleigh, N.C. He is the founder of NSF-funded Network Research Lab (NRL) in the Electrical/Computer Engineering Department. at UTPA, and an elected Senior Member of IEEE.

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UTPA Solar System Efficiency Leonel Aguilera, Dr. Jaime Ramos and Dr. Sanjeev Kumar Department of Electrical Engineering, The University of Texas-Pan AmericanNowadays a lot of interest has been shown worldwide into Solar Energy Systems, sincethey represent revolutionary way to generate electrical power in a cleaner way, in order tohelp protect the environment.Due to the capacity factor of Solar Photovoltaic, which is at most 30% we need to knowhow efficient our arrays are, and to ensure the efficiency is maximized in order to get agreater power production.In the Electrical Engineering Department of the University of Texas-Pan American wehave developed a database system to store the information and generate customizedreports regarding power production for the purpose of analyzing and comparing theamount of power within the two arrays that we have in campus.The database is an online analytical processing or OLAP Relational Database developedusing MySQL and a graphic user interface or GUI using C++ that is used in order toenable connectivity and query into the stored information.We have two photovoltaic arrays that are ENGR PV Array and TXU Array. The ENGRPV Array is a fixed array of 5 kW whereas the TXU Array has a Solar Tracking Systemto increase the power efficiency production; it contains 2 solar trackers of 2.75 kW each,summing up a total of 5.50 kW.The ENGR PV Array generates averaged measurements every five minutes, whereas theTXU Array is recording one averaged reading every hour. This information is later usedto populate our database records enabling the generation of customized reports withenergy (kWh) and power (kW) measurements and also to measure the duration of theday, both for a user selected period of time input containing start and finish date.With the UTPA Solar Radiation Lab recently installed on the Engineering buildingrooftop, we are able to calculate the amount of power delivered by the sun throughout theday per square meter. The UTPA Solar Radiation Lab contains a Solar Tracker System isable to collect measurements of direct normal irradiance (DNI), diffuse horizontalirradiance (DHI) and global horizontal irradiance (GHI).This information allows us to measure the actual efficiency of each one of our arrays inan accurate way.The UTPA Solar System we have designed gives the students access to a wide variety ofdata generated by the Solar Radiation Lab, ENGR and TXU arrays.They will have to calculate different angles of the sun at diverse hours of the day and thesolar noon time in a manual way using formulas presented in this paper in order tocompare their theoretical results with the actual measurements found in the system.A compound of class exercises, homework and laboratory experiments are designed tointroduce this topic in a more enthusiastic, practical and visual way in order to enhanceunderstanding about the great potential found in solar energy.

Aguilera, L., & Ramos-Salas, J., & Kumar, S. (2012, June), UTPA Solar System Efficiency Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--22213

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