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Remote solar labs to teach and transfer knowledge to students and entrepreneurs

Solar panels

OU researchers have been awarded funding to teach and provide real time experience to students who are experimenting and troubleshooting solar cells under different lab conditions.

By December 2017, all OU students will have access to smart remote solar labs to understand the key challenges to providing a viable alternative to electricity worldwide.

Dr Satheesh Krishnamurthy, OU Senior Lecturer in Energy, School of Engineering and Innovation and Fellow of Royal Society of Chemistry, received £20,000 from the Global Challenges Research Fund Royal Academy to develop an open access remote photovoltaic laboratory for educational purposes. This project will be in collaboration with Dr Namrata Sengar, University of Kota, and Rajasthan, India, where Masters students will work on the initial phase.

“Over the last few decades, the applications of photovoltaic systems have grown rapidly and they are on their way to becoming a major energy source for India and Europe,” he said. “It is impossible to successfully promote solar systems without appropriately educated people who will be involved in their design, sizing, and installation.”

Dr Krishnamurthy has addressed this challenge by proposing a remote photovoltaics laboratory, which will consist of specialised equipment, sensors, monitoring and control hardware, real time camera and also users have the option to tilt the solar cell modules which will be installed outdoors at the facilities of the OU, and allow users from India to perform real-world tests and experiments with photovoltaic panels over the internet, in real time.

The facilities will form part of the OU’s award-winning OpenSTEM labs, which will make teaching and research facilities available to students 24/7. OU collaborators are: Dr Tim Drysdale, Senior Lecturer (Engineering/Electronics) and Prof Nick Braithwaite, Associate Dean (Academic Excellence).

The system will be accessible to all and will be accompanied by appropriate educational material for several target groups such as students, postgraduates, professionals and educators. The design will also be modular, to be easy to modify and or upgrade.

Dr Krishnamurthy is very active in UK/India collaborations and in celebrating young academics. He is Vice-president for the Indian Chamber of Youth Entrepreneurs. He was awarded the Mobility Award at the India-UK Research Excellence Awards in 2016. He was also awarded Global Initiative Academic Network, by Ministry of Human Resource Development in India to teach in higher academic institutions in India. He is also one of the top 30 EU scientist and Engineers to represent in Frontiers of Engineering meeting in the USA.

Read more about his work.

Read about the OpenSTEM labs.

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