Solar Software. I’m Greg Martin as Line On Agriculture presents the Harvest Clean Energy Report.
We have been discussing solar systems from the ground up in last few weeks. Rich Dana, Energy Specialist for the National Center for Appropriate Technology a national organization based in Butte, Montana deals with a lot of questions from farmers and ranchers about the right kind of renewable energy projects for them and of course solar is an important one. And while PV or photovoltaic systems are fairly passive, meaning you really don’t have to do a lot to them for them to work, monitoring them takes a bit more.
DANA: There is just a slew of new tools out there for design and monitoring of PV systems and it kind of breaks down into three categories; site analysis tools where you are just starting to take a look at your location and see if it makes sense for solar.
Many locations are just not well suited to solar due to various factors and the software tools help to verify those locations.
DANA: Then there are another set of tools that are out there to help you design your system and choose your equipment wisely and then another set of software is out there on the market for monitoring your system and tracking production
One of the interesting things about the ability to monitor your solar system is a feature to share that information.
DANA: Most of the companies all offer a data port you can include in your inverter that will feed data in different formats, usually in a spreadsheet format to your PC and then there are all sorts of things available that make it possible for you to share your production numbers even in real time over the web. If you have a company or even if you are an individual and just wanted to let other people see what kind of production numbers you are getting, you can feed that data real time.
NCAT does not make recommendations for particular software packages but they do offer assistance in selecting the right system for your needs.
DANA: There are some links on our farm energy site and actually on the main NCAT site as well. Really the NREL, the National Renewable Energy Labs site is the best and most comprehensive list I know of on the web.
For additional information on clean energy, visit harvestcleanenergy.org. That’s today’s Line On Agriculture. I’m Greg Martin on the Northwest Ag Information Network.