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Project Examples

Water System Design for Yanacaca, Peru

Course: 22.521 – Solar Fundamentals
Semester: Fall 2006
Instructor: John Duffy
Partner: Village Empowerment Project – Yanacaca, Peru

Brief Description:

The goal of this student miniproject was to provide an opportunity to apply theory and tools of convective processes to an actual system design intended to assist a remote village in Peru by evaluating the optimal orientation of a photovoltaic array used to be used for charging storage batteries and pumping water. Each year for the last five years one or more remote village in Peru is assisted with a new solar water system provided the UMASS Lowell Village Empowerment Project. Students have helped to install over 80 systems for water, communication, laptops, medical devices, lighting in 42 villages and towns. Yanacaca was selected this year to the next town to have the solar water system installation.

Full Description:

The overall goal of this miniproject was to provide students with a chance to apply the theory and tools of solar engineering to an actual system and an opportunity to help communities, local and remote. This was a service-learning project in which academic goals are met along with real community needs. The learning objectives included in addition to developing skills in meeting the technical objectives, evaluating in part the potential sociological impact of solar technology on the community resulting from student participation in this project as a "citizen of the world."


The technical objectives include:

  • With the irradiation data available, try to estimate if there is any shading from nearby mountains or trees or buildings at the three sites. Hint: On clear days compare actual readings from what you would expect if there was no shading. Why would it be important to identify shading if you would use the data to predict performance in other similar areas? There are photos of the sites in the “journal” section of the above web page.
  1. Estimate the twelve monthly average horizontal global irradiation values based on your analysis of our own data from the three other towns and other available data for the town of Yanacaca .
  2. Compare your horizontal irradiation monthly average estimates based on the measured 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. Are the differences believable? What might be the cause of the differences?
  3. Estimate the horizontal irradiation monthly averages based on satellite images. There are web sites to help you do this. Document how the satellite estimates were made (i.e., not just the results copied from the web). Compare these to your horizontal irradiation monthly average estimates based on measured hourly data.
  4. Estimate the optimal fixed tilt of the PV modules to be installed in Yanacaca to gain maximum energy over the year.