Cleaning solar panels

Cleaning solar panels, the key to maintaining their energy efficiency

Energy efficiency Photovoltaic energy PERSEO

Improvements in efficiency and the drastic reduction in the cost of photovoltaic panels have allowed solar energy to become a fundamental part of the energy mix. However, it is necessary to have cleaning processes that prevent the accumulation of dirt and debris on the panels, ensuring their proper functioning and increasing their efficiency.

Placas solares

Cleaning solar panels, the key to maintaining their energy efficiency.

Cleaning solar panels

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Airborne particles in the air have a direct impact on a photovoltaic plant. Some studies and reports show that such pollution can reduce the efficiency of solar panels by up to 25 %.

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"When dirt and debris hit the solar panels, it prevents sunlight from reaching them. That produces hot spots, which makes the panels not work properly," explains Teresa Ojanguren Fernández, project engineer at Iberdrola Renovables.

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The correct cleaning of solar panels allows for greater use of sunlight as a source of clean energy, which is key to achieving decarbonisation and combating climate change. 

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In this regard, the Núñez de Balboa photovoltaic plant, built in Badajoz and with the capacity to supply clean energy to 250,000 homes, stands out as an example of maintenance. This Iberdrola plant, the largest in Europe, produces around 832 GWh per year thanks to its 1,430,000 photovoltaic panels, installed on 288,000 foundations and weighing a total of 12,100 tonnes.

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The Spanish start-up SCM was selected in a challenge launched by the Iberdrola - PERSEO international start-up programme in search of low-cost, sustainable, dry solutions to improve solar panel cleaning processes. The winning project, known as the Sahara model, consists of a cleaning system comprising mechanical (gearboxes, wheels, brushes), electronic (programmable operating system, end-of-travel sensor) and auxiliary elements. In addition, it allows several rows to be cleaned at the same time without the need for water.

Source: FT