Are You Wasting Water to Clean Your Solar Panels? Here’s a Sustainable Alternative
April 28th, 2022
Did you know that if Clean Solar Panels are not cleaned every month, they lose up to 30 percent of their output? This means that you end up losing electricity. A team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) calculated through lab tests. That even a 1 percent reduction in power, for a 150-megawatt solar installation could result in a $200,000 loss in annual revenue. So, what is the best method to Clean Solar Panels?
The most common method to Clean Solar Panels is with water. However, this water-based cleaning mechanism is extremely wasteful – it uses way more water than you might think – unless your guess was around 10 billion gallons of water each year. Which is enough to provide drinking water to 2 million people.
It works by pouring an excessive amount of water on to the panels. Then the dust is cleaned off with the help of specialized wipers. This wastage of water is obviously a point of concern for the users and manufacturers of solar panels.
“That amount of water is almost unbelievable,” says Professor Kripa Varanasi, who, along with his graduate student, Sreedath Panath, and a team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has created a water-free way to clear dust from photovoltaic panels. Prof. Varnasi believes that the solar panel industry must be very careful and thoughtful about finding a sustainable solution.
A Sustainable Alternative to Water
With simple components – a metal-bar electrode, a guide rail, and an electric motor – the MIT – developed, sustainable system. Which makes dust particles detach and virtually leap off the panel’s surface, without the need for water or brushes.
The achievement, described in the journal, Science Advances, relies on a process called Electrostatic repulsion. Or what is known as Coulombic forces. Due to repulsion properties, dust particles are repelled from the surface of the solar panels leaving a clean and clear surface. The complete working of this water-free system is explained below:
- To charge the dust particles, a metal electrode is passed above the surface of the solar panel.
- An opposite charge is applied on the panel’s surface and as a result, dust particles are repelled from the solar panel’s surface.
- To make this system autonomous, an electric motor with guide rails on the sides of the solar panel can be used.
In order to further understand the process of this water-free solar panel cleaning mechanism, you may read about it in Science Advances (as mentioned above) or Tech Briefs.
Access RegSource® as your source of regulatory compliance information.
We would love to hear from you. If you have any comments on this blog, please reply below.
Disclaimer: Any opinions expressed in the blog do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Certrec. The content of this blog is meant for informational purposes only.