Fulfilling attendance at the European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference
October 30, 2023
ACEP Solar Technologies program members Michelle Wilber, Christie Haupert and Henry Toal had a positive experience at the 40th European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference in mid-September. The conference was in Lisbon, Portugal.
EU PVSEC is one of the world’s largest international conferences on solar photovoltaic energy. This year’s topics focused on solar PV efficiency and reliability, new strategies for integrating solar PV into electric grids such as microgrids and agrivoltaics — the simultaneous use of areas of land for both solar panels and agriculture, and on industry challenges.
Building on momentum created at the World EU PVSEC conference last year, the ACEP attendees shared Alaska-specific examples with European colleagues and brought home new and innovative ideas.
Thanks in part to collaboration with Sandia National Laboratories, Toal presented ACEP’s ongoing work on optimizing vertical bifacial solar photovoltaics for northern climates, focusing on the considerations involved in installing such arrays in locations with large snowdrifts, low sun angles and dark winters, and how these challenges can be overcome in economical ways. The research showed that increasing the ground clearance of a vertical array could substantially reduce snowdrift formation, and in turn shading on the panels, hence increasing energy generation and more than offsetting the cost of taller racking — the foundation that holds solar arrays in place.
The conference provided an excellent opportunity for ACEP to meet with researchers from across the globe and exchange ideas for tackling some of the unique challenges and opportunities faced by Alaska as we continue to expand our solar PV energy generation capacity.
“Learning how the EU is working to track operation and maintenance costs across its various member states is an example of research that is directly applicable to processes in Alaska,” Haupert said.
In addition, a European conference benefits ACEP research because it allows direct access to other researchers from far northern latitudes.
“One thing about U.S. based conferences is that we are the only reps of anything high latitude, whereas at EU PVSEC we got all the Scandinavian researchers, so we weren't the only ones,” Wilber said.
The ACEP Solar Technology program has been building momentum with other high-latitude solar experts and is currently assisting Swedish and Sandia National Lab researchers with the planning of a workshop specific to high latitude solar PV in Pitea, Sweden next year.
This endeavor is part of the Arctic Regional Collaboration for Technology Innovation and Commercialization (ARCTIC) program, an initiative supported by the Office of Naval Research.