A Sunnier Future
David Thompson Secondary
Floor Location : J 141 N
Solar panels; the green-energy machines. They are great for the environment, but happen to be a bit costly (especially in places without a lot of sunlight), so this project is all about how a solar panel system can be designed to take in more sunlight. The main concept of this design uses Fresnel lenses to focus light on solar cells. This idea was first tested, with the hypothesis that the ratio of energy produced by the solar panel without and with the Fresnel lens would be 1 : 91 since the Fresnel lens used was about 91 times as big as the solar panel. An adjustable Fresnel lens focuser was built. The control was the amount of energy (watts/P) produced without the Fresnel lens. The independent variable is the addition of a Fresnel lens to the solar panel system and the dependent variable is the amount of energy produced with the Fresnel lens. Three positions were used, each one more angled from the light source.
This testing turned out with positive results. However, the ratio of the amount of energy produced by the solar panel without and with the Fresnel lens was 1 : 192 instead of 1 : 91, in position 1 where the solar panel directly faced the light. Experimental error may play a part in this exaggerated result. Also it was discovered that solar panels need to directly face the light source in order to produce the most energy, as the ratio in position 2 was 1 : 85, and the ratio in position 3 was 1 : 32.
- circular platform (varying sizes) w adjustable legs to attach to roof
- supported pole (length depends on panel size) carries panel
- 2 motors or a spherical joint mechanism moves the panel to face any direction
- programmed to follow the sun based on location
- panel made from many cells of 16 cm2 Fresnel lens over 1 cm2 solar panels
- solar panels/cells are round and not rectangular
- reflective material around solar cell
- area of lens above solar cell is groove free (area may be smaller based on distance between solar cell and lens) to maximize light intake
- holes in panel to protect system in case of strong wind
- Fresnel lens wiper: like windshield wiper; attached to chain pulled back and forth by small motors
A more effective solar panel system was designed based on the experimental information, but as this system hasn’t been built and tested, there will be faults to it. The cost may be in the hundreds. A fact to consider is that clouds could scatter the sunlight, making Fresnel lens less effective, but if more research is put into this idea, one day it could become something that saves money and saves the planet. It could make the future sunnier.