A research team of the Colgate University of the U.S. has developed a simple sun-tracking device capable of boosting power output of solar panels by one third.
The device, a DIY one, consists of a pivot for placement of solar panel, plus some stones on one end and a bag of water on the other, which drains slowly, causing the pivot, as well as the solar panel, to slant. Consequently, the solar panel changes its angle for maximum exposure to sunlight, similar to the function of sun tracker. The team has developed the device, in collaboration with SunSaluter, a nonprofit.
The device is meant mainly for helping less developed countries solve power-shortage problem. One fourth of the population of Uganda, for instance, is still excluded from the coverage of its grid network. Average power consumption reaches only 0.04 kWh per household daily in Uganda, compared with 20 kWh in the U.S. In collaboration with international organizations, Uganda government and other African governments have been sparing no effort in developing renewable energy and micro grids. The DIY sun-tracking device can help boost the efficiency of solar panels, thereby cutting installation space and cost. Existing residential PV power devices in the country are mostly simple models, without sun trackers.
Photo courtesy of the Colgate University
In collaboration with local welders, the research team has developed a pivot, which costs only US$6, compared with US$25 of one produced by SunSaluter. With higher efficiency induced by the DIY device, the size of solar panels can be shrunk, enabling owners to deposit them indoor during nighttime and preventing theft.
(Collaborative media: TechNews, first photo courtesy of Dyniss Rainer via vlickr CC BY 2.0)