Solar photovoltaic installations in India crossed the 1 GW mark Last Year and the experts say that the potential is far from exhausted. The Solar market is predicted to grow significantly in the next few years, driven mainly by rising power demand, escalating fossil fuel prices, Government initiatives and moreover falling technology costs. In figures, the central government of India has a goal of producing 22 gigawatts of solar power by 2022.
With all these budding characteristics and potential stated above, India herself presents a significant market opportunity for solar energy firms worldwide.
In this scenario it is worth identifying an “Uncontested Market Space in the Solar Landscape”. It is cleaning the clean energy equipment, the solar panels. Answering to the question do solar panels require cleaning? Can give us an idea. Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) states that energy output can be decreased by about 10% due to dirt and other residues; in areas with more bird dropping, pollution, or dust, the efficiency can decrease as high as 15-20%. So cleaning is very essential.
Even though there is no thumb rule regarding the frequency of cleaning, experts say that it purely depends on the nature of the area where panels are installed; for areas that collect dirt easily on the solar panels, washing is required at least every month. For areas with less dirt, it is recommended you wash them in every 2 months. But keep in mind rainy season can be a blessing in the case of tilted solar panels.
A Leading Developer in India said to Renew India Campaign - "issues relating to Solar Module cleaning have been dogging us". Currently most of the developers in India use the standard diesel water tanker with a high pressure pump. Also Developers in Gujarat say, they sometimes require Module cleaning at least once every 15 days, which makes the above method difficult.
· Cost. (Have to bear till another effective alternative is identified!)
o Water cost (Also bear in mind of water scarcity)
o Transportation cost
· Difficulty (For larger arrays, by the time you manually clean the array, it is dirty again!)
This makes us to think of alternatives, and we have a potential market HERE!
We identified some of the cleaning methods employed today, and have listed a few below which caught our eye.
Using Automatic Solar Panel Cleaning Systems: Automatic Solar Panel Cleaning Systems automatically wash and rinse your solar panels. Once the system is installed and programmed, it requires no further attention except the occasional refilling of the soap concentrate and replacement of the water filters. The system can be programmed to wash and rinse as often as you feel necessary for you area.
Use Mars Technology (self cleaning solar panels): The technology involves the deposition of a transparent, electrically sensitive material on glass or on a transparent plastic sheet that cover the panels. Sensors monitor dust levels on the surface of the panel and energize 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.
As Indian states are planning to bring giant amounts of solar power online, it is the right time for manufacturers and service providers to capitalize on this particular market by bringing innovative products and methods that could clean the clean energy equipment !
· Hard water should not be used for the cleaning.
· Cleaning should be done during the hours of darkness to avoid damaging the panels and interrupting production.
· Never try to climb out onto the array - use a soft brush for cleaning.
· Spraying cold water onto a hot solar panel risks creating micro fractures in the glass.
As an individual who wish to live in a greener world, I would love to see new technologies that cleans the panels effectively with reduced gallons of water.
Article Written by Gopakumar Gopinathan
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