Photo-Voltaic Array Simulator

Herman Cheung, Christopher Loschiavo, Jerry Thayilchira
supervised by Dr. Amirnaser Yazdani

The goal of our project is to develop a device that is able to simulate the output characteristics of a solar panel. As the interest in the use of renewable resources is increasing, more and more manufacturers are beginning to develop products which make use of solar energy in order to operate, such as cars, lights, and other machinery. A large part of developing such products is knowing how it will respond when the solar panel is not operating at its maximum output. In order to do this the product may need to be tested for a variety of environmental factors, all of which have an effect on solar power generation. However it is near impossible to accurately replicate these conditions and other means must be taken to provide testability. This project also allows for quicker testing conditions, where users will not have to wait for specific environmental conditions to occur, and will take up much less space than a traditional solar panel and light setup used for factory testing. Instead users can input these values into the touch screen display and set their parameters. This device is also perfect for the smart home concept as it promotes the use of green energy and allows installation of solar panels to be performed easier and simpler than any method available.

With this design the appropriate factors, such as light levels, temperature, and weather conditions can be programmed into our device which will then calculate the output that a physical solar panel may generate. It will then be able to replicate the operations of a solar panel, and simulate its responses to different situations. On top of having different situations, we can further add features such as different models from various companies. As new models of solar panels are created, our device will be flexible in incorporating these simply by updating the database. The input of this device is a simple single phase alternating supply. This supply is the typical wall outlet seen in every home or business. The entire circuit will be powered though this supply, with no need for additional batteries. The output will be a simple DC voltage between 0-300V and with a current between 0-3A. Our project rectifies a AC power supply into a constant DC voltage. This voltage is sent through a PWM inverter, controlled by the micro-controller to create an adjustable AC voltage. This AC voltage is once again rectified into a DC voltage supply to be sent to a load.

Project targeted applications: Educational uses, Manufacturing testing, Grid testing, New solar device testing