Design of a solar tracking system for renewable energy

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It is now an increasing environmental concern for many countries to find renewable environmentally friendly forms of energy. Solar panels which use electric actuators, are designed to efficiently harness the suns energy, which is renewable.  Most countries rely on natural gas, fossil fuels and nuclear for electricity but this sources will sooner or later be depleted. It is thus very important for use to find a form of renewable energy that is both efficient and affordable e.g. solar energy. Most solar panels harness less than 20% of available solar energy and it is thus very important to find a more efficient system.

Figure 1 linear actuator
Figure 1 linear actuator

A student team designed three solar tracking system that can increase the efficiency of solar energy systems. The system is real-time and thus responses to its environment in the shortest possible time. This real time programs allows it to make decisions that ensures its safety and increases its efficiency e.g. positioning itself at the point that maximizes irradiances and reduces battery charge.

The system has mechanical, electrical, hardware and software designs that ensure it is efficient. Some of the hardware components include the inverter that converts DC to AC, the Arduino uno which is the microcontroller, a solar panel, motor controller and linear actuators just to name a few. The mechanical design is able to resist wind, lightning, storms and extreme temperatures. The system has a software design that allows it effectively track the position of the sun.

Figure 2 solar energy system
Figure 2 solar energy system

Among the three designs, the design 1 was found to be more efficient. The system had the lowest power consumption. The angular movement of the solar panel is also important in tracking the position of the sun. Linear actuators and motors ensure that the panel is able rotate and move at the proper angles. Design 1 accomplished flexibility and allowed a minimum angle of 45 degrees in all directions. The design is easy to transport since it weighs very little.

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