Why is it Important to Keep Solar Panels Clean?

Most equipment works best when clean. And a solar installation is no different. In fact, cleanliness is crucial to the performance of solar panels. The world’s first solar panel The first solar panel was built in 1883 by American inventor Charles Fritts. It was the first practical application of the photovoltaic effect. Discovered in 1839 by 19-year-old French scientist Edmund Bacquerel, the photovoltaic effect is the generation of an electric current in a material upon exposure to light. Fritts’s solar panel had an efficiency rating of 1%, which means that it reflected 99% of the sun’s electricity and converted just 1% into energy. To put this into perspective, most solar panels today have an efficiency rating of around 20%. Solar energy in the UK Renewable energy is playing a leading role in the global race to Net Zero. In 1991, about 2% of UK power was being generated from renewable sources. In 2013, this figure was 14%. By 2020, renewable energy – comprising wind power, biomass energy, solar power, and hydropower – accounted for 43% of the UK’s total power production. In the UK today, 1.3 million homes (approximately 4% of all homes in the UK) and around 500 solar farms are generating electricity from photovoltaic installations. Solar energy now accounts for 4.3% of the UK’s total power supply. Direct current (DC) electricity generated by solar panels is carried to a solar inverter, which converts the energy to an alternating current for consumer use. There are two kinds of solar inverter: A string inverter, installed in the home, processes electricity from a string of connected panels. A microinverter, on the other hand, is paired with a single panel. An industrial photovoltaic system will usually have a microinverter installed under each solar panel. Keeping solar panels clean A fundamental feature of solar panels is that they’re exposed to sunlight. That’s the whole point! So, if part of an installation is shaded from the sun by debris, such as leaves, lichen, tree sap, dust, and bird droppings, performance will be impacted. Even microscopic particles of minerals can create a barrier to sunlight. Tap water contains up to 500 mg per litre of dissolved solids, including sodium, fluoride, potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc. Left as residue on solar panels, these minerals will block out some of the light, reducing photovoltaic efficiency. Solar panels must be cleaned with pure water – for example, rainwater. Although it sometimes feels like it never stops raining in the UK, there’s not always enough rain to keep solar panels thoroughly clean. Domestic photovoltaic installations typically take the form of a string of panels. Because of the way the panels are wired together, an issue with just one of the panels will impact the photovoltaic effect of the entire string. This means that a string of solar panels is only as efficient as its dirtiest panel. Solar panel cleaning by Norfolk Cleaning To talk to us about our solar panel cleaning service, give us a call on 01692 407690 or email admin@norfolk-cleaning.co.uk.