The Duke University Energy Initiative and Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative have awarded the 2021 Clear Power Prize to Michael Valerino, a Ph.D. pupil in civil and environmental engineering on the Pratt School of Engineering.
The Clean Energy Prize ($10,000) helps fund Duke college students to pursue novel concepts, potential merchandise, or companies that advance an accessible, dependable, reasonably priced and clear vitality future.
The 2021 Prize will assist Valerino’s challenge staff to develop an interactive, data-driven platform geared toward decreasing dust-related photo voltaic vitality losses.
Photo voltaic panels generate at most capability when the solar is shining shiny, however over time, filth and dirt scale back the quantity of daylight reaching the cells. Photo voltaic panel soiling can scale back peak electrical energy manufacturing by 10 to 40 % in a matter of weeks in lots of components of the world. The phenomenon is answerable for an estimated $10 billion in losses yearly.
Valerino is principal investigator for the challenge staff, which incorporates school Michael Bergin, Ph.D., (Pratt College of Engineering) and Drew Shindell, Ph.D., (Nicholas College of the Surroundings); undergraduate engineering college students Alexandra Rivera (E’23) and Jessica Wey (E’23); and Duke alumnus Joshua Miller (E’15, T’15), head of platform at Syngenta. The trouble is an outgrowth of analysis by Bergin, Shindell, Valerino, and others at Duke, together with a challenge supported in 2019 by the Power Initiative’s Energy Research Seed Fund.
The Duke challenge staff will leverage knowledge from NASA and photo voltaic vitality yield fashions to develop a web-based platform that may assist customers decide optimized cleansing schedules for photo voltaic panels. Schedules shall be personalized to account for the panels’ location, time of yr, and numerous different inputs.
To refine the platform, staff members will verify in with bodily photo voltaic areas throughout the globe to see if soiling accumulations stack up in opposition to predicted ranges, after which will regulate this system accordingly. This real-world suggestions ought to assist enhance the platform’s accuracy and improve era.
“Cleansing photo voltaic panels could be expensive, however so is the vitality loss because of soiling,” famous Valerino. “We need to translate analysis on soiling into actionable steerage that helps the photo voltaic trade maximize effectivity and profitability on an ongoing foundation.”
The expertise may additionally assist speed up the worldwide adoption of photo voltaic vitality. Soiling loss is a key contributor to monetary threat related to each new and present photo voltaic installations. Extra correct predictions of anticipated losses and optimized upkeep schedules will scale back that threat, enabling financiers to supply decrease rates of interest.
One of many 2021 Prize judges was Eric Rohlfing, Ph.D.,executive-in-residence on the Power Initiative and former appearing director of ARPA-E, a U.S. Division of Power company that advances high-potential, high-impact vitality applied sciences which are too early for private-sector funding. Rohlfing stated, “Fierce competitors from Duke college students made judging fairly a job, however I imagine Michael’s challenge has the potential for vital affect within the photo voltaic trade.”
The staff ultimately intends to license use of the platform and develop partnerships with photo voltaic photovoltaic corporations and authorities businesses.
Brian Murray, Ph.D., interim director of the newly merged Duke University Energy Initiative and Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, stated, “We enthusiastically assist Michael’s continued exploration of vitality knowledge analytics and utilizing it to develop administration instruments with the potential to remodel how we develop clear vitality. We sit up for following his progress.”