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Cloud tracking to improve effectiveness of solar panels

Cloud tracking to benefit solar pv 171 89806 0 14101924 300

{lots of one-sentence paragraphs here - I'd combine some} Solar panels have become a feature of many Australian homes over recent years. Figures from the Clean Energy Council show that by the end of 2013, 3.1 million Australians had either lived or worked in a property with solar panels installed.

As a result, it's hardly surprising that efforts are being made to ensure solar PV systems remain effective at encouraging clean energy production.

One group currently investing in this area is the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), which is undertaking a significant cloud tracking project.

A total of $452,000 in funding has been made available for the Fulcrum3D technology, designed to follow and forecast cloud movements so the output of solar panels can be boosted.

"Effectively predicting off-grid solar PV output means diesel generators can be switched on before production drops or solar output can be gradually ramped down, smoothing energy delivery and potentially allowing more solar to be used," explained ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht.

ARENA noted that current technologies aren't able to cope well with multi-layered cloud bands, whereas this camera hardware is equipped with all the technology necessary to make a difference.

Cloud tracking has the potential to benefit on-grid applications as well, which will become increasingly important for the stability of electricity supplies.

"The project will trial ground-based sensors that can better identify cloud height and track clouds that are layered at different altitudes and moving at different speeds," added Mr Frischknecht.

Further statistics from the Clean Energy Council show in 2013, demand for power from the national grid declined for the fifth year in a row as alternative energy sources were found.

Not only this, 705 MW of large-scale renewable energy projects were put online over the course of the year, showing how investment in the sector continues to grow.

Posted by Jeremy Elliott