Does dust affect solar panels?

The greatest factors that contribute to dust build-up are your geographical location and the surrounding elements that might pollute your system. Canberra is a growing city with a lot of housing and commercial developments going ahead. Whole suburbs are being built in literally 12 months.

While heavy rain, as some smaller studies suggest, might help to clean, and clear debris and pollutants from your panels, most large studies report that dust build-up can lower the efficiency of our system in just a minute – around 5% or less.

One study found that solar panels that are properly maintained perform 3.5% more efficiently. CleanTechnica reported an analysis, gathered by the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), that panels lose around 30% if not cleaned properly.

Recent studies have shown that ‘due to the accumulation of dust the efficiency of solar modules and panels in terms of power can be reduced up to 60%’. Additionally, ‘The research inferred that the mean of the daily energy loss along a year caused by dust deposited on PV module surface is around 4.4%’.
While dust is a common pollutant, leaves also block sunlight, thus affecting your panels’ efficiency. Mountain View, a solar energy provider, reports that clean panels can double the energy overnight, even after 15 months of operation.
Solar systems installed in dust-prone areas, such as near main roads and farmlands, will require more frequent and thorough maintenance. Failure to clean dust-off panels installed in such areas can see a detrimental impact on solar production. The reduction in solar efficiency due to dust in high dust prone areas such as roadworks and construction sites on PV panels can be up to 40% in dust-prone areas.
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