Solar module cleaning is just the beginning – pv magazine International

Optimizing the performance of solar panels often comes down to ensuring their cleanliness. The level and type of soiling, the local weather, and the cleaning method can all influence the extent of energy loss. During last year, ChemiTek, in partnership with O&M companies and PV asset managers, has developed a range of products to solve specific soiling challenges facing the solar industry – and recent testing has yielded impressive results.

Over the past six months, Portugal-based ChemiTek has tested a number of antistatic and hydrophobic coatings that can be applied to solar modules. The coatings were tested at the Tangier-Asilah Green Power Solar PV Park and the results point to a bring future in their adoption.

However, results demonstrate that chemical soiling solutions are most effectively applied when tailored to environmental and climactic conditions. To meet this need, ChemiTek studies the different conditions of each solar park, such as the amount and type of dirt, the location of the solar panels and the weather, along with the cleaning method, to ensure the solution provided meets the specific project’s need. It is entirely true that no two solar plants are alike.

Soiling losses

Studies show that dirty solar panels can result in energy losses of between 7% to 50%. ChemiTek has developed a range of agents to remove contaminants and harsh soiling, such as lichens, cement dust, gypsum, hard and very water, bird droppings, pollen and bees’ wax, and others.

For example, if a solar plant is affected by cement dust, stone dust, gypsum, and other alkaline contaminants, ChemiTek’s Cement Removal Agent (CRA) will react chemically with these contaminants, removing them in a highly effective way.

Another problem that affects the production of energy from PV modulesand that can even damage the system, is the appearance of lichens, mosses, and other fungi on their surface, especially in very humid environments and in sites with large amounts of organic matter – near forests, agricultural plantations and so on. For this, ChemiTek has developed its Lichen Removal Agent (LRA).

For the removal of organic dirt, such as pollen and bees’ wax, bird droppings, sand, dust, and resin, it is recommended to use the cleaning and protection solution Solar Wash Protect (SWP). SWP is not only highly effective in removing accumulated dirt, it also results in an antistatic coating that repels dust and prevents the adhesion of soiling.

It is important to use the correct type of water in module cleaningin order not to leave water stains on the module. Hard water – containing high levels of minerals and metal ions – can result in stains and deposits, which will block light transmission and can even lead to the creation of hotspots on the module. ChemiTek has developed the Water Softening Agent (WSA), a biodegradable agent that captures minerals and metal ions, making the water completely safe to use for PV modules cleaning.

After cleaning care

ChemiTek has a number of coatings that can be applied after cleaning, and have been tested by TÜV Sud. These include an antistatic coating for dry and moderate climates and hydrophobic coating for rainy environments.

SWP and Antistatic Solar Armor (ASA) are antistatic coatings. However, SWP is a cleaning and protection product, that can be used by O&M teams and asset managers or on a residential scale; While ASA is an antistatic coating to be applied by professionals on solar parks installed in dry climates, preferably to use with semiautomatic equipment (eg brush on a tractor and/or robot).

For locations with very humid and rainy weather, it is recommended the use of hydrophobic coatings, such as the D-Solar Defendor (DSD), which is for professional use and to be applied at high dilutions with brush on tractors or robots; and the Industrial Glass Protect (IGP) a long-lasting (+5 years) coating that provides high hydrophobicity and is very resistant to adverse environmental conditions such as acid rain, high salinity, and extreme temperatures. The application of IGP can also lead to a reduction in the amount of cleaning required.

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