EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Design of solar power systems for autonomous instruments deployed in the polar regions

Michael R Prior-Jones1, Elizabeth A Bagshaw1, Thomas H Nylen2, Joe Pettit3, and Paul Carpenter4
Michael R Prior-Jones et al.
  • 1Cardiff University, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, CARDIFF, United Kingdom of Great Britain – England, Scotland, Wales (
  • 2DTU Space, Kongens Lyngby, Denmark
  • 3UNAVCO Inc, Boulder, CO, USA
  • 4IRIS/PASSCAL, Socorro, NM, USA

Solar panels and batteries are commonly used to power autonomous instrumentation in remote locations. The use of solar power in the polar regions needs a special approach to the system design because of the need to store sufficient energy to cover the period of total darkness in the winter. In this presentation we review the key principles of solar power system design for the polar regions and provide a spreadsheet model to aid the design process. We demonstrate the importance of assessing the power consumption of ancillary electronics (such as solar regulators and low-voltage disconnect units), as this can often be greater or equal to that of the instrument itself. Consequently, the choice of solar regulator (and other ancillary devices) can have a major impact on the size of the battery required for successful operation. Controlled laboratory measurements  of power consumption for fourteen commonly-used models of solar regulator demonstrated that there can be disparity between the manufacturer’s specifications and measured power consumption, so we assess the most suitable  systems for low temperature, long-term deployment at polar latitudes.

How to cite: Prior-Jones, M. R., Bagshaw, E. A., Nylen, T. H., Pettit, J., and Carpenter, P.: Design of solar power systems for autonomous instruments deployed in the polar regions, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-7886,, 2022.


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