Solar Energy Market to boom as Researchers Devise a Method to Improve Efficiency

Posted On April 25, 2022     

Solar power may account for 10% of worldwide power output by 2030. Much of it might be concentrated in desert areas where sunshine is abundant. However, dust that gets collected on solar panels or mirrors is already a big issue. This is because it can diminish photovoltaic panel production by up to 30% in just one month. Thus, regular cleaning is required for such systems. Further, the cleaning work for these panels is expected to consume approximately 10 billion gallons of water every year—enough to supply drinking water to up to 2 million people.

According to the researchers, a waterless, no-contact technology for autonomously cleaning solar panels or the mirrors of solar thermal plants might greatly minimise the dust problem.

A team has introduced a method that could overcome this hurdle. The novel approach employs electrostatic repulsion to cause dust particles to detach and leap off the panel's surface. This is achieved without water or brushes. The technique is a considerable contribution to the Solar Energy Market as it will make the production of energy more efficient and will help maintain the panels better.

In the process, a simple electrode is passed just above the surface of the solar panel to charge the dust particles. These are subsequently repelled by a charge provided to the panel itself. The device can be controlled automatically using a basic electric motor and guide rails along the side of the panel.

The technique created requires an electrode, which can be a simple metal bar, to pass over the panel. Thus, creating an electric field with the ability to charge the dust particles as it passes. Simultaneously, an opposite charge applied to a transparent conductive layer deposited on the glass covering of the solar panel repels the particles. And by calculating the proper voltage to use, the researchers could find a voltage range sufficient to overcome adhesion forces and the pull of gravity - causing the dust to lift away.

Furthermore, unlike previous work on electrodynamic displays, which does not work at high or even moderate humidity, the present device can work indefinitely at humidity levels as high as 95 per cent.

Such technologies have the potential to enhance the overall efficiency and reliability of solar installations dramatically. This may be done by removing the need for trucked-in water, reducing dust buildup that can contain corrosive chemicals, and cutting overall running expenses.

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