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Sandia’s Sensors to Study Effects of Cloud Cover on Solar Plants

Sandia National Laboratories’ researchers are employing sensors connected by a RF network to forecast the repercussions of cloud cover on the output of gigantic solar power plants.

The researchers fixed 24 miniscule sensors to the solar panels in the 1.2 MW La Ola Solar Farm on the Island of Lana’i in Hawaii to examine and evaluate the reduced power output because of the moving clouds. These sensors rotate and follow the axis of the sun and the data gathered from them is sent for analysis using a RF network.

According to Chris Lovvorn, Castle & Cooke Resorts’ Director (alternate energy), the ability to predict power production is very essential due to the increased solar power generation and a nation-wide increase in the number of grids.

The sensor takes a reading every second, and shows in unparalleled detail the cloud coverage activity and cloud direction. Josh Stein, a researcher, stated that this study would assist operators to forecast the output of the plant, and also the variability, thus guaranteeing a dependable continuous power supply.


Sandia National Laboratories established in 1949, plays a significant role in defense systems, nuclear weapons, energy, climate and infrastructure security, homeland and international security areas. It is a GOCO (Government-owned, Contractor operated) facility and its technological solutions solve both global and national threats faced by the 300+ million Americans.

Source: http://www.sandia.gov

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