Learning Something New

These past few weeks have been an interesting time for me. I finished programming the DC power supply to simulate a solar panel array using Matlab a couple of weeks back actually, I just forgot to write about it. This project was about injecting power into the power grid via a “solar panel array” to see if there would be any changes to grid performance. There are several issues that may occur when injecting power into the power grid. The one that we are most concerned with here, is power quality issues. Power quality issues range from interruptions (short and long) to voltage unbalance where phase-angle differences are not equal. This is when the micro phasor measurement unit comes in hand since it measures phase-angles.

Currently, our set up consists of a DC power supply to an inverter to a micro phasor measurement unit and finally, to a local power grid. It’s a bit counter-intuitive because we’re taking power from the grid and injecting it back, with some losses of course. In order to replicate solar panel performance, we had to simulate the photovoltaic curves and the fluctuation of solar irradiation throughout the day. We did this by obtaining curves from a program called Photovoltaic Power Profiles Emulation (PPPE) from MagnaPower and solar irradiation data from the National Solar Radiation Data Base (NSRDB). Since the NSRDB had data for every 30 minutes in a year at a chosen location, we were able to create profiles that could accurately represent solar conditions in a day. Combining the data from the PPPE and NSRDB, it made it possible to make an accurate solar array simulation. Additionally, I created a graphic user interface so that it would be simple to simulate a day given the profiles. Overall, I had a great experience doing this project because I was able to learn a new language.

Solar Simulator App 1-3Solar Simulator App 2-3Solar Simulator App 3-3

Solar Simulator App


The whole point of programming this DC power supply was because the inverter that they had is rated at 3kW and the power supply they had to simulate solar panel arrays was limited to 500W, which was too low. But they had another power supply that was rated at 15kW, so they had me program this one. However, the power supply wasn’t made to perform this way, so it wasn’t completely accurate and that’s why we are trying another way to program the power supply, using a microcontroller. I have never really worked with a microcontroller before, only in during lab at the university. Additionally, I had to learn how to program in C/C++, which was necessary with the C2000 microcontrollers from Texas Instruments.

Life here in Monterrey is pretty cool. I’m enjoying the lovely sceneries that they have to offer, like the view from Chipinque Park. The park is stationed in the mountains and makes a great hike if you choose to do it, but you can also just drive up the road as well. It was a hot day and I didn’t feel the need to put myself through that so, I drove up :D. From the interesting little creatures to the view up above, it was absolutely breathtaking.


I also had the chance to go to the local planetarium, it was amazing. They had lots of interactive exhibits, animals, and also “live” dinosaurs. I forgot to take pictures of these dinosaurs but I did manage to get some cool pictures of these birds. There were also these containers where you get seeds to feed the birds by inserting coins. To be honest, when taking a picture of the peacock, I thought it was going to attack me. Another interesting view at the planetarium was this walkway where streams of water would arc above you, as you walk down the path.