Pollution Affecting Solar Panel Effectiveness

Solar panels are going up all over the country. If you have thought about getting solar panels, currently there are great rates available for solar loans and solar financing. Solar panels have overcome many hurdles, but a recent study shows that there is a new challenge that is facing solar panels, pollution. It is ironic that one of the biggest reasons to make the switch to solar is to reduce pollution and now, the pollution is hurting solar power.

How Solar Works

Solar power — or photovoltaic power — is not a new technology. It was first discovered in the 1800s but it wasn’t until the 1940s that a way to harness that power was invented, a solar cell. Light hits metal which causes electrons to either be accepted or omitted depending on the metal. These two properties allow electrons to move towards and then through a conductor creating electricity. Solar panels are effective at generating electricity, don’t use any natural resources after they are constructed and since they have no moving parts, they are reliable and long lasting. Solar panels are great to install because they will generate electricity that has a fixed cost their entire lifespan. Solar panels are also great here in Utah because of the amount of direct sunlight we receive. Now is a great time to secure your solar loans and get your solar financing in order.

How Pollution Affects Solar

The problem that pollution is causing solar is twofold. On one hand, the pollution in the air causes less sunlight to make it to the solar panels. On the other hand, once the air pollution settles on the panels, there is reduced efficiency because of the dirt and particulates block the panels. Many areas of the world are experiencing a loss of output by around 25 percent. The areas that are the worst affected are some of the countries that have invested the most in solar panels and infrastructure: India, China and Arabian Peninsula.

Dale University professor Michael Bergin has researched this link and found that there was a 50 percent uptick in efficiency when panels were cleaned after a few weeks of pollutants had been allowed to accumulate. Cleaning solar panels, however, can be difficult and if cleaned incorrectly, can end up damaging them. When the particles were analyzed they found that 92 percent of the pollution was dust and 8 percent carbon and iron (manmade pollutants). These man-made pollutants are the most troubling because they can most effectively block out light.

In a statement, Bergen said, “We’ve always known that these pollutants were bad for human health and climate change but now we’ve shown how bad they are for solar energy as well. It’s yet another reason for policymakers worldwide to adopt emissions controls.”

In one estimate, China stands to lose billions of dollars in energy losses from the countries rapidly expanding solar energy installations.

The Solution

Reducing pollutants will go a long way toward helping solar panels maintain effectiveness. This reduction can only occur will the use of more renewable sources of energy. Help the environment and help out your neighbors will solar panels by securing your solar loans and getting your solar financing in order. You won’t regret the switch to renewable, clean energy.







Published: July 27, 2017

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