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Project Examples

Measurement of Irradiation Data Analysis from Peru

Course: 22.521 - Solar Fundamentals
Semester: Fall 2005
Instructor: John Duffy
Partner: Village Empowerment Peru Project

Partnership Description: This was a service-learning project in which academic goals were met along with real community needs. The overall goal of each of these S-L projects was to provide students with opportunities to apply theory and tools of solar engineering to an actual system and an opportunity to help communities, local and remote. U Mass Lowell students have since 1997 been working with residents of small remote villages in the Andes Mountains of Peru. Background information on the project is available at Students have also been working with Greater Lowell Regional Technical High School (GLTHS)

Project Description: Students were presented with a choice of two projects: (a) measured irradiation data analysis from Peru and (b) optimal slope, azimuth, and spacing for solar collectors on a flat roof at the nearby Lowell Regional Technical High School

For the Village Empowerment Project based in Peru, students were provided with some hourly data from a UML data logger in the clinic in the town of Malvas, 3100 m elevation, 9.9170° S, 77.6830° W (coordinates courtesy of Additional data from Raypa, 1400 m elev. 9.6500° S, 77.9170° W and some data from Cochapeti (9.9830° S, 77.6500° W, 3400 m) were also made available to students. The sites are in the same time zone as Lowell. It was suggested to utilize (and actually have used) irradiation data from three sites to help design new solar systems in these areas. Data on photovoltaic array output and vaccine refrigerator energy use measurements were also provided in order to examine the data more closely to make sure it is reasonable and useable for future work. Previously, no one had systematically reviewed and analyzed the data carefully. Good field data is hard to come by.

Technical objectives and tasks for the Peru Village Empowerment Project included:

  • Screen the measurements of irradiation, temperature, PV output, and vaccine fridge energy use. Sometimes sensors get dirty, have calibrations drift off, get disconnected, and then give inaccurate data. Screen all the data for obvious problems. Identify: missing data, suspected corrupted data. For irradiation data students were asked to compare:
    • With the irradiation data, estimate if there is any shading from nearby mountains or trees or buildings. Discuss why it would be important to identify shading if this data was used to predict performance in other similar areas.
    • Compare irradiation estimates with the hourly data to at least five estimates for each town based on monthly average irradiation data from representative towns in our database ( or other appropriate available databases.
    • Tabulate the PV system energy generated by month as well as the energy consumed by the vaccine refrigerators. Note that at times the fridges are not used or may be broken. Different fridges have been installed at the sites also.
    • The town of Manipampa has requested a water pumping system. It is close to the town of Quillapampa, which has coordinates of 9.85 S and 78.02 W and has an elevation of approximately 1000 m. Estimate the twelve monthly average horizontal global irradiation values based on analysis of our own data from the three other towns and other available data for the town of Quillapampa.