Researchers at the Australian National University (ANU) are looking for volunteers across the Australian Capital Territory to take part in a new study that analyzes how user-installed solar panels interact with the power grid.Every homeowner who chooses to participate will get data logger installed in their meter boxes to see how much solar energy is being produced. This will allow engineers to predict the amount of energy these panels pump into the grid and adjust the supply of conventional power stations accordingly. While it’s relatively easy to measure the total output of these panels over long periods of time, estimating the amount of energy they can generate at different times of day is another matter altogether, says Dr. Chrisfried Webers from ANU’s College of Engineering and Computer Science.The University called on Data61’s Machine Learning Group – formerly National ICT Australia (NICTA) – who are working to develop methods of forecasting power output from rooftop solar energy systems.“What we need is to be able to predict how much energy will be produced over five minutes to 60 minutes,” Webers said. “That’s necessary information for the energy market operator — they need information on what’s coming from hour to hour.”Around 14 % of households in the ACT have operational photovoltaic solar panel installations, which means that one in ten houses can cover their energy requirements at least in part.The facts show solar power is great for the users and the environment both, but engineers take this number with a pinch of salt – should the panels stop producing energy, these households will start drawing on the main grid. If this happens and the power stations are not prepared, it could cause rolling blackouts, especially as more panels are installed.