Pollution of solar panels reduces their production by 35%

    Dust and particles in the air can damage the ability of solar panels to generate as much energy as they can, [based on technical parameters - approx. translator]. Duke University professor of engineering , Michael Bergin, said: “My colleagues from India showed me some of their rooftop PV systems, and I was shocked at how dirty the panels were. I thought that dirt should affect the efficiency of solar panels, but there have been no studies evaluating these losses. So we put together a comparative model to do just that. ”

    Researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology Gandinagar ( IITGN ), University of Wisconsin at Madisonand Duke University scientists found that the accumulation of pollution really affects the final yield of solar energy. They measured the decrease in energy from IITGN solar panels, as they were the dirtiest. Each time the panels were cleaned every few weeks, the researchers noted a 50 percent increase in efficiency.

    China, India and the Arabian Peninsula are the most “dusty” in the world. Even if their panels are cleaned monthly, they can still lose 17 to 25 percent of solar energy production. And if cleaning happens every two months, the losses are 25 or even 35 percent.

    The reduction in production is associated not only with electricity, but also with money. Bergin said China could lose tens of billions of dollars a year, "with more than 80 percent of them falling due to pollution." He noted that humanity knows that air pollution is bad for health and climate change, but now we know that it is bad for solar energy too. This study is also important for politicians to make decisions about emission control.

    The study was published online in June 2017 in the journal Environmental Science and Technology Letters.

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