Solar Panels & Insects

 Michigan State University scientists, working on solar research, warn that shiny dark solar cells can lure water insects away from critical breeding areas.

Conventional solar cells share a problem with glass-clad buildings and other expanses of shiny dark surfaces — even vehicles. Reflected sunlight becomes polarized, or aligned in a single, often horizontal plane, which is how at least 300 species of insect recognize the surface of water bodies to lay their eggs. When species such as mayflies and caddis flies mistake shiny dark surfaces for water, they set themselves up for reproductive failure and often become easy targets for predators.

It was discovered that applying white grids or other methods to break up the polarized reflection of light, however, makes mayflies and other aquatic insects far less likely to deposit eggs on the panels thinking that they are water. But applying white markings to solar cells might reduce their ability to collect solar energy by perhaps 1.8 percent, depending on the amount of space the strips cover; a not so acceptable solution for the bankers/developers.

Of all the people I have spoken to yet, Mr. Shiraz was the only one speaking at length of the “insects and animal challenges” that Indian solar farms could face; and I am sure that we all will agree to the fact that India has plenty of insects & animals in villages where we will see solar farms coming up.  Solar farms in India will bring up new challenges (not earlier seen in Germany or Spain) and it will be interesting to find indigenous solutions.

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