Solar Energy Data

The Schoolgen database is huge as it records electricity generation data from the solar panels at ALL of the Schoolgen schools every 30 minutes - and this data is recorded from when the panels were first installed. The first installation was at the end of 2006 with the first data following soon after in February 2007. The Schoolgen website allows students to access this data and create their own queries on how much electricity has been generated by the solar panels.

What Questions can be Investigated?

Students can explore the solar data to answer questions such as:

  1. How much electrical energy is my school generating per day/ year ?
  2. How does this compare to my own families electricity use? (see bills at home).
  3. How does my school compare to other Schoolgen schools?
  4. Why is their a difference between schools? (View System Details)
  5. What does a perfectly sunny day in summer look like compared to a perfectly sunny day in winter?
  6. Why is there a difference in generation between winter and summer?
  7. How well correlated is the photovoltaic generation data with the solar radiation data collected at the nearest weather station?

How do you access the Solar Data?

  1. Using the colour-coded interactive map on the home page to see the live power generation across the country at a glance.
  2. Using the interactive graphs on each school profile page (use the map icons or school search function to access this).
  3. By clicking on the Download Data button at the bottom right of the graphs a file will be downloaded that can be used with Microsoft Excel.
  4. Refer to the Graphing Real World Solar Energy Data with Excel activity for a structured way to use this data with students.
  5. Using the Solar vs Solar function up to 5 schools solar generation may be compared at a time. Students are often interested in this head-to-head comparison of 'solar versus solar'.
  6. Using the solar widgets on the home-page and school profile pages. Widgets interpret key statistics into more easily understood form such as number of PCs used for a month.

What other Data is reported?

  • The reports will also show the CO2 emissions avoided by using solar panels. 
  • More about how emissions are calculated can be found here on the Solar FAQ page. This could be tied into the student inquiry: What's My Carbon Footprint?
  • Solar radiation data is also supplied from the nearest NIWA weather station. Solar radiation is reported in units of Mega-Joules per square meter (MJ/m2).
  • Specific details of the direction of the panels and their tilt angle (pitch) can be found on each profile page - View System Details (example).