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Sizing considerations for a solar system

Designing a solar home system can be a challenging task, and even small mistakes can lead to significant issues down the road. Here are some tips on how to avoid mistakes when designing a solar home system:

1

Poor System Design (Under-estimating/Over-estimating energy needs)

A poorly designed solar home system can lead to performance issues and lower efficiency. Ensure that the system design is well thought out and includes all necessary components, including solar panels, inverters, batteries, and charge controllers. The design should also consider the system’s capacity, expected lifespan, and maintenance requirements.

One common mistake is to overestimate energy needs, leading to a system that is more expensive than necessary. Before designing the solar home system, calculate the average daily energy consumption to determine the appropriate size of the system. This can be done by reviewing energy bills, using an energy consumption calculator, or consulting with a solar professional.

 

2

Poor Panel Orientation

In the northern hemisphere, solar panels should ideally be installed face south, while in the southern hemisphere, they should face north. This is because the sun appears to move across the sky from east to west, so solar panels facing south (in the northern hemisphere) or north (in the southern hemisphere) will receive the most direct sunlight over the course of the day.

 

However, there may be other factors to consider as well, such as the angle of the roof and shading from nearby buildings or trees. A qualified solar installer can help you determine the best orientation for your specific situation and maximize the energy production of your solar panels.

3

Considering Autonomy Days

Solar home systems are designed to operate in a wide range of weather conditions, but extreme weather conditions can affect the system’s performance. When designing the system, consider the local climate and weather patterns and ensure the system is designed to withstand extreme weather conditions such as high winds, heavy snowfall, or hailstorms.

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Aston University partners with Solargen and UoN

Aston University partners with Solargen and UoN to improve crop production in Kenya by up to 50%

  • Aston University enters 15-month knowledge transfer partnership with Solargen Technologies and the University of Nairobi to develop irrigation system powered by solar and wind energy
  • Crop yields will increase by 30 to 50% using control and sensor systems to deliver optimised amount of water for soil conditions
  • Results of the collaboration will support farmers in Kenya and increase company revenue by 77%.

Aston University has teamed up with engineering company Solargen Technologies (SGT) and the University of Nairobi through a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) to develop a smart irrigation system using solar and wind energy to provide year-round watering of land to improve crop production in Kenya.

A KTP is a three-way collaboration between a business, an academic partner and a highly qualified researcher, known as a KTP associate. 

S

olargentechnologies is a leading energy, water and irrigation solution and service provider in Kenya. They work in partnership with non-governmental entities, government, and individuals to serve communities in rural and conflict-affected parts of Eastern Africa through customised solutions that meet their energy, water and food security needs. 

Kenya’s economy is agriculture-based, but over 80% of its land is dry. Farmers cannot depend on rain-fed agriculture due to unpredictable rainfall and frequent drought, therefore an irrigation system is required. SGT’s current irrigation system is solar powered and requires large batteries and manned operation to maintain efficiency, resulting in high operating and maintenance costs and issues with performance during cloudy days. 

This KTP will use a hybrid source of solar and wind energy to power ‘smart sensors’ and ‘control systems’ to automatically deliver the right amount of water for a given crop type and maintain the required soil moisture level, resulting in increased crop yields.

T he Aston University team will be led by Dr Muhammed Imran, senior lecturer in mechanical engineering and an established researcher in the area of renewable energy systems, especially hybrid energy systems. He will be supported by Dr Tabbi Wilberforce Awotwe, lecturer in mechanical engineering and design and an established researcher in the area of sustainable energy systems and optimisation approaches. 

Dr Imran said: “We are delighted to design the hybrid solar and wind energy system for this smart irrigation system, which will have a positive impact on primary crop production, increase the availability of safe and healthy foods and improve the welfare of farmers and their families in rural Kenya.”

They are collaborating with Professor Ayub Gitau and Dr George Kamucha from the University of Nairobi. Professor Gitau is an associate professor and dean for the School of Engineering and a professional agricultural engineer. Dr Kamucha is a senior lecturer and chairman for the Department of Electrical and Information Engineering who has extensive experience in advance control systems as well as advance model predictive control systems. 

Badr Shariff, managing director at Solargen Technologies, said: “The project will bring together Aston University’s expertise in hybrid energy, the University of Nairobi’s expertise in irrigation systems and our expertise in system integration and solar energy to develop a market leading irrigation system with increased reliability and low operating and maintenance costs.”