As reported by the clean technology web site, CleanTechnica, analysis by the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) shows a potential 30 per cent energy yield loss per year if panels are not cleaned monthly.
In fact, letting dust, soil and debris build up on your solar panels can lead to as much as 100 per cent loss of energy yield over time, the NREL data shows. This process is known as solar panel soiling.
Solar panel soiling is a hot topic, according to NRE. It increases uncertainty for business, and drives up solar energy costs through lost production, higher maintenance costs and higher finance rates.
A new ‘Solar Panel Soiling’ whitepaper by solar measurement company Kipp & Zonen explores the issue of dirty solar panels in terms of economic, geographic and technical factors.
For instance, panel dirt is worst in desert areas like the American Southwest where the air is dry and dusty. Flat-tilt solar array designs also trap more dust.
Meanwhile, air pollution is also a culprit. Solar build-up happens on solar arrays close to local factories or composting facilities, the whitepaper informs.
The solar industry is always looking for new ways to minimise the soiling which impacts on home and business productivity over time. These include:
Kipp & Zonen’s DustIQ monitor uses LED and a photodiode to monitor the amount of dirt on solar panels. Solar farm operators can then choose when and how often to clean their solar installations for maximum solar performance.
Australia now has more than two million rooftop solar installations. According to the Clean Energy Council, 2018 also saw a 45 per cent growth in commercial solar power systems.
Many homeowners opt to clean their own solar panels. This is safer from the ground where possible – read our cleaning solar panels guide for more tips.