During summer of 2017, four other engineering students and I travelled to the Baixiongping Research Station in Sichuan Province, China. The station is unique: it acts as a research hub for Shan Shui conservation center even though it is in the middle of the forest.
Because of nature reserve laws, the station must be powered completely by renewable energy sources close to the station. Right now, it is powered using hydropower, but there are two big problems.
1. Sand, rocks, and leaves regularly get caught in the dam. Station staff members have to shovel it all out whenever the power goes out, which is at least once a week.
2. There is not enough rainfall to power the station from December -June.
Our team analyzed the station, and helped the staff set up a solar energy system to act as a source of back-up power. We worked under the constraints of the nature reserve (ex. no structures could be permeant) to install 6200W of solar panels next to the station, and connect it to the house. We also helped diagnose other engineering problems in the station that future teams could tackle.