Traverse City Record-Eagle

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November 30, 2013

MTU solar energy study should produce usable results

We’ll be interested, along with a great many people, we suspect, to see results of a study launched by Michigan Tech University in Houghton recently to determine if and to what degree snow affects solar panels.

MTU researchers who launched the effort project it will to take up to two years to complete.

University spokeswomen Marcia Goodrich, in a published statement, said international engineering company DNV GL is helping with study costs.

She noted, and The Associated Press reported, the company specializes in “large energy — and sustainability-related projects.”

The company has built an array of solar photovoltaic panels behind the Keweenaw Research Center set at different angles.

The panel settings range from horizontal to 45 degrees. “If you tilt them at 60 degrees, almost no snow sticks to the panels, but you also lose a lot of sunlight when they are not facing the sky,” Tim Townsend, a DNV GL engineer, said in an AP story.

He said that earlier studies show that year-round power losses because of snow can range from a few percent to 18 percent.

The data will be especially useful to homes and especially businesses which are located in snowy climates, where there is a desire to explore solar generation, AP reported.

So many st.dies produced by academia these days seem, bluntly speaking, to be poor uses of the public’s money. This effort seems different, however. We look forward to its results.

— The Mining Journal, Marquette

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