Is it worth to wash PV panels?

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Oct '23

Workman cleaning solar panels

To wash or not to wash, that is the question. How important is it to wash the panels? That is a question that every owner of a solar power plant, without exception, asks. At first glance you might think that the dust layer is no barrier to sunlight at all and that the solar power plant continues to generate everything as if it were new. However, this is not the case.

Of course, it depends on where the panels are located, near roads where many cars pass, a field with agricultural activities, production facilities where dust is constantly present (as a rule, almost all industries are included). The least susceptible to dust accumulation are places near bodies of water, but even then not always.

Photovoltaic panels service Poznań and surroundings

You might think that the rain is enough to wash the dust and dirt off the photovoltaic panels, but to contradict this you can try wiping the panel the day after the rain – you will find that they are still just as dirty are. From a fine drizzle, the dust simply ‘sticks’ better to the panel and makes it more difficult to wash off in the future. Only a big rain shower can partially wash away the biggest dirt, but don’t forget when the last one was. In addition, rain alone is not enough to wash the panels – they must be washed with special brushes that do not damage the protective glass and frame of the photo module.

Losses in solar power plant generation can range from 5 to 15 percent per year, depending on the level of pollution. Let’s look at an example of a small power plant with little pollution. To simplify the calculation, we consider a solar station with a capacity of 50 kW and a generation loss of 10%. A 50kW solar PV plant generates 50,000-55,000 kWh per year respectively, 10% of which is 5000 kWh per year loss. At a rate of £0.65 per kWh the amount of lost generation will be more than £3000. Much or little depends on you.

Cleaning photovoltaic panels – everything you need to know

If there wasn’t one ‘BUT’. Besides dust pollution, there is also bird droppings and other similar pollutants. This type of pollution not only leads to a loss of generation, but there is also the potential for irreversible damage to the photovoltaic cells, reducing overall generation forever.

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