UB part of $2.3 million project to make solar energy production more resilient


External Collaborators: Yanlin Guo - Assistant Professor, Colorado State University, United States Department of Energy (DOE) Renewables Advancing Community Energy Resilience (RACER)

Project Description

A man in a hardhat posing inside a narrow chamber.

Solar trackers allow solar panels to follow the sun’s path, increasing energy production throughout the day. However, when these trackers are damaged during storms, solar panels miss out on significant sunlight while the trackers are being repaired or replaced. Teng Wu, PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Civil, Structural, and Environmental Engineering, is developing wind hardening technologies to improve the resiliance of solar trackers to withstand hurricane-force winds.

Most solar tracker systems need to be stowed under moderate wind speeds—about 30 mph. These new technologies allow the systems to withstand stronger wind speeds, cutting back the frequency of wind stowing. Wind hardening technologies will also decrease wind-induced damage and maintenance costs. According to Wu, the increased power production and optimized maintenance will drive down the cost of solar energy production in a holistic way.

The project is part of the United States Department of Energy’s (DOE) Renewables Advancing Community Energy Resilience (RACER) program and is led by Colorado State University assistant professor Yanlin Guo. According to the DOE, the RACER program supports “projects that enable communities to use solar and solar-plus-storage to prevent disruptions in power caused by extreme weather and other events, and to rapidly restore electricity if it goes down.”

“My traditional topics involve buildings and bridges, which generally produce significant portions of CO2, making the climate worse,” Wu says. “I started to investigate climate mitigation approaches, including facilitating the use of solar, wind and other forms of renewable energy, by enhancing the resilience of energy generation devices under extreme events.”

Project News