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Specific impact of air pollution index on photovoltaic power generation

6-29, 2020 / By MUST Power

Solar energy is one of the most affordable clean energy, and its production capacity has far exceeded other new energy power generation technologies. In the natural environment, the shielding of sunlight by clouds is the main factor affecting the solar power generation rate; however, a recent study in “Nature·Sustainability” found that the impact of atmospheric particulate pollutants is three times that of clouds.

Aerosols such as PM2.5 in the air form aerosols, which will block sunlight from penetrating the air; large particles of dust will accumulate on the solar panel, significantly reducing the output power of the solar panel. In the heavily polluted areas of my country’s North China Plain and northern India, as well as the desert areas of North Africa, the Middle East and western China, particulate pollutants have even caused the efficiency of solar power generation to drop by more than 50%.

From a global perspective, the impact of different particulate pollutants on solar power generation rates is not the same. Most solar energy-rich areas belong to the subtropical arid zone, where dust is severe, and the accumulation of dust on solar panels has a much greater impact on the power generation rate than aerosols. It is estimated that the impact of dust accumulation can account for more than 2/3 of the total impact of particulate pollutants.

In the short term, manual cleaning of solar panels can effectively increase solar output. In desert areas with little precipitation, only one solar panel needs to be cleaned once a quarter, which can bring huge benefits; while in heavily polluted areas such as the North China Plain and India, solar panels need to be cleaned more frequently.

Researchers estimate the efficiency gains from cleaning solar panels in different regions

In the long run, the treatment of air pollution and desertified land is the fundamental way to increase global solar energy production capacity. The development of renewable energy can further promote this virtuous cycle.