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  • Monday, December 13, 2021
  • Undergraduate Student Uses Award to Help Hometown Understand Solar Potential

Mechanical engineering student Lydia Andriesen has received a spring 2022 award from UAF’s Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarly Activity to explore solar photovoltaic energy potential in Haines, Alaska, in collaboration with the ACEP Solar Technologies Program team.

According to Andriesen, many residents in her hometown of Haines, Alaska would benefit from using solar panels but don’t have access to accurate information on the solar potential of their homes.

Andriesen wants to provide landowners in Haines with information about which solar irradiance sensing methods are the most accurate to assess whether solar photovoltaic energy might benefit their homes and properties. She will engage with students at Haines High School to test and compare different measurement methods — including PVWatts, pyranometer data and iPhone apps. 

“Working with ACEP is a great opportunity,” said Andriesen. “I am excited to learn more about renewable energy for my hometown and bring a wider understanding of how solar energy can be best utilized to reduce our carbon footprint, specifically in Haines. The team at ACEP has been welcoming and supportive, and I am grateful for the chance to work on this project with them.”

The PVWatts tool, developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado, is widely used in other parts of the United States but becomes more inaccurate at higher latitudes.

Andriesen’s testing could provide useful and applicable insights to other Alaska communities about their solar energy potential.

“We were thrilled when Lydia approached us with her proposal to help her community,” said Erin Whitney, ACEP Solar Technologies Program director. “We’re excited to help make her idea a reality through instrumentation and data analysis assistance.”


Lydia Andriesen received an award from the UAF Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarly Activity to work with ACEP’s Solar Technologies Program. Photo courtesy of Lydia Andriesen.