UW Solar Spectrum Projects

AME is proud to support activities that promote broader public understanding and dialogue of the scientific and technological issues associated with energy generation, storage, and use. At present, we support a number of interlocking projects such as those that are designed to generate electricity from sunlight at UW, provide a facility for testing next-generation photovoltaics (PV) technologies, create a state-of-the-art Northwest solar sensing site, attract students from a range of disciplines and train them in design/build principles relating to solar energy, and create and launch an interactive kiosk (the SunDawg) that will engage over a hundred thousand visitors a year at UW and in the community.

10kW photovoltaic (PV) demo on the roof of the UW Power Plant:  There will be three different technologies in this demonstration site (find out more) that will feed PV-generated electricity into the UW electrical system. The UW smart grid project monitors how much power is generated every day. You can find this power generation data compiled here. We are working on making it available for use by researchers, schools and interested members of the general public.

Photovoltaic (PV) test bed facility on the roof of the Power Plant:  This will have plug-in stations where researchers can test a variety of emerging technologies side by side under "environmental" conditions.  This underscores our belief that in order to create breakthrough technologies we will need to test them outside our sheltered lab environments.  The data from this should provide excellent research opportunities for both graduate and undergraduate science and engineering students.

Solar monitoring station:  We will install state of the art sensors on the test bed facility to provide data on solar radiation, direct vs. indirect light, temperature, and other parameters.   The facilities at NREL relate to direct sun at lower latitude and may not accurately represent what solar installations might experience in Western Washington or other similar areas (e.g. Germany).  This system will be important in determining the denominator for any solar efficiency calculations.  It will also be important in helping people understand that there is more solar radiation in western Washington than most people think.  In addition to providing a powerful research tool, this system will have value for public outreach efforts regarding the viability of PV in the northwest.

SunDawg solar information kiosk:  This will be a solar-powered, mobile, interactive, programmable information portal that will be much more dynamic and engaging than 99% of kiosks around today. Its main focus will be to communicate three core messages: that solar energy needs to be play a major role in our energy future, that UW researchers are helping generate and test new technologies that could have a big impact, and the UW is working with partners such as PSE to deploy renewable solar technologies today.  The SunDawg will be designed and built by students under the direction and mentoring of experts in a variety of fields (see below). Our current iteration of the SunDawg is shown here, and can be requested for outreach activities.

Mobilizing Solar Energy will ran in the Winter Quarter, 2012, led by Professor Rob Pena in Architecture:  In this interdisciplinary course, students from a variety of fields learned about PV and principles of design and communication apply them to create design concepts for the SunDawg solar information kiosk. In the Spring quarter, a team of students from a variety of disciplines will work under the guidance of professionals to build and test the SunDawg kiosk using the best design elements from the Mobilizing Solar Energy proposals.  In total, we expect about 45 students to receive classroom training, mentoring from experts, and hands-on experience working on a highly collaborative, multidisciplinary design/build project.  Course Details...

Please contact Yeechi Chen (yeechi@uw.edu) for more information.