Capture the sun’s energy at your school

It’s a new competition for Orkney schools, finding out about a new type of solar panel.

Solar cells usually face the sun,” says competition organiser Dave Craig of the Young Engineers and Science Clubs, “but a new type of cell works with the sun on either side.

There’s plenty of space in Orkney for ground-mounted units, and in summer the sun can be behind the panel for many hours. But which type works better in Orkney, single-faced or bifacial? No one knows! So we need schools to make a fair test and then we can bring together their results.”

The competition has been funded by Orkney Renewable Energy Forum, which has provided kits for schools. Each kit has some solar cells and some electronic components to wire up for testing.

Spring and summer

There are two sections, one for primary and one for secondary, and teams of up to five pupils can enter. There’s time to carry out the tests through spring and summer months, with the entry deadline Saturday 9 September, when Orkney International Science Festival will be under way, and Dave Craig hopes to be able to announce the results during the Festival.

Teachers should send in reports of the work of the pupil teams. A good report is brief, but it is well-presented and accurate with numbers. It should include diagrams, sketches and/or photographs. It can be hand-drawn or handwritten, or it can use a spreadsheet.”

There are prizes of £50 and £25 for the best reports in each section, primary and secondary. The prizes have been donated by Solar Dynamix and Wire Brigade, and Dave Craig says that the results have potential value for Orkney as well.

If this works, there may be an unexpected advantage. There is a 4kW limit on grid-connected installations in Orkney. A bifacial installation rated at 4kW may squeeze more kilowatt-hours per day out of the same regulatory straitjacket.”

You can find out more about the competition and the kind of work involved in a special competition pack to download here.

The Young Engineers and Science Clubs is an initiative of the Scottish Council Development and Industry.


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Orkney Science Festival

One of the world's longest-established and most original science festivals, providing a platform for fresh ideas in an island setting.