Self Cleaning Solar Panels – a boon for Indian Environment?

Some regions, like Middle East & Indian subcontinent, have one of the highest levels of solar radiation in the world, making it an ideal location for solar PV plants. However, a big problem is the equally high dust-deposition rate, which has a dramatic impact on the efficiency of solar panels. According to experts, a dust layer of one-seventh of an ounce per square yard decreases solar power conversion by 40%. In Arizona, dust is deposited each month at about four times that amount. Deposition rates are even higher in the Middle East, Australia, and India.

Cetain Self-cleaning PV systems that are available rely on water which can be a valuable resource in deserts and in the Middle East. Now the latest research is looking into using an electric charge produced by the panels themselves in order to clean them. The technology involves placing a transparent, electrically-sensitive material deposited on glass, or a transparent plastic sheet covering the panels. Sensors monitor dust levels on the surface of the panel, and energise the material when dust concentration reaches a critical level. The electric charge sends a dust-repelling wave cascading over the surface of the material, lifting away the dust and transporting it off of the screen’s edges. Within two minutes, the process removes about 90% of the dust deposited on the panels. It requires only a small amount of electricity generated by the panel for cleaning purposes.

The need for such technology is growing with the popularity of solar energy.

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