Want optimum solar panel performance? Keep your solar panels clean!
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.
Dust and debris cut solar performance for US business
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.
New research helps keep solar panels clean and efficient
The solar industry is always looking for new ways to minimise the soiling which impacts on home and business productivity over time. These include:
- Special coatings for solar panel glass to repel dust and reduce soiling.
- Robotic cleaners to remove dirt at night without using water – they use soft brushes and air blowers.
- Kipp & Zonen’s commercial solar tool designed to measure dirt levels.
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.
Solar panels cleaning: DIY or bring in the experts?
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.