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How to Keep Desert Solar Panels Dust-Free

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Emily Newton's picture
Editor-In-Chief Revolutionized Magazine

Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief at Revolutionized Magazine. She enjoys writing articles in the energy industry as well as other industrial sectors.

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  • Mar 23, 2022
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Global conservation organizations developed net-zero emission goals over the last few years. Environmentalists target the energy industry to lower greenhouse gas emissions and improve utility costs. Energy professionals are increasing national solar power supplies by building solar farms in the desert.

The desert contains a topography that’s compatible with clean energy production practices. One production challenge involves dust accumulation and its efficiency degradation qualities. Unfortunately, current dust removal methods are unsatisfactory and exploit natural resources.

Why Dust Prevention Is Challenging

Environmental engineers must develop effective dust removal technologies to improve the global energy supply’s sustainability. As Earth’s temperature rises, dust accumulation may increase. Researchers have identified an increase in wind speeds relating to climate change, which further disrupts local dust and debris and propels it airborne.

Drastic changes in air temperatures can increase the speed and frequency of desert winds. As the wind blows dust onto solar panels, it degrades their efficiency. Compromised efficiency shrinks the availability of emission-free power supplies.

One current dust removal technique involves rinsing away panel debris with water. The water supply in deserts is drastically shrinking because of climate change. As global temperatures rise, the evaporation rate follows and depletes freshwater supplies.

Other cleaning measures take time and place a panel’s production on hold. Some devices also scratch panels’ surfaces, causing significant damage. Adequate dust prevention and removal methods can increase a panel’s efficiency and minimize society’s water and fossil fuel reliance.

Using Transparent Electrodynamic Systems

One technological device relies on transparent electrodynamic system (EDS) technology. The technology is self-cleaning and uses electrical charges to remove dust. Engineers developed the system based on human lungs.

Lungs contain self-cleaning hairs, which collect and remove dust. Professionals originally developed EDS devices to eliminate dust from space equipment on Mars missions. Solar farm maintenance workers can place the technology on panels using silkscreen-printed film.

The EDS technology introduces dust and debris to electrostatic energy. The particles levitate and disperse away from the panel when electrical charges fluctuate. To function, the technology only requires about 1% of the energy a panel generates daily.

The department of energy (DOE) evaluated EDS technology and funded its integration into the renewables sector.

Professionals may also add environmental seals to desert panels and further enhance their efficiency levels.

Adding Environmental Seals

When minuscule dust particles make their way into a solar panel, its battery, or its inverter, efficiency levels can decline. Lapsed maintenance and prevention measures can allow dust to damage a panel’s internal components. Energy professionals may add an environmental seal to solar devices to protect the power supply from its environment.

They can apply the seal technology using a compressor. Hermetic seals may withstand high-pressure environments and prevent dust-related system interference. As climate change increases high-wind occurrences, maintenance professionals must protect the solar power sector by applying environmental seals.

Developing Nano-hydrophobic Systems

Another effective dust repellent technology supporting solar power production is vibrational excitation. Engineers are developing effective panel preservation systems using nano-hydrophobic technology. The system induces vibrations to elevate and move dust off of solar panels.

Nano-hydrophobic technology emits a minor frequency and amplitude range. Researchers found great vibrational forces can produce adverse effects on the technology. Optimizing the system’s frequency may improve its efficiency and panel protection measures.

Developers are improving the technology using sonically and ultrasonically induced vibrations. There are many interesting reasons to explore vibratory resonance, in fact. This system accelerates dust and debris on a panel’s surface. Researchers found that nano-hydrophobic systems can remove even highly adhered materials from panels.

Using Cleaning Robots

Other environmental engineers are challenging dust-related efficiency degradation using robotics. One team of researchers developed the Scrobby device, which uses the internet of things (IoT) to autonomously clean panels. The technology is efficient and sustainable, using the elements to reduce resource exploitation.

Scrobby contains a small solar panel, which charges an internal battery. It also has a rainwater container on its docking station. The device uses solar power to remove dust and debris from panels effectively.

Maintenance professionals can monitor the device’s work using an IoT-connected app. They may override Scrobby’s set schedule during high-wind occurrences to optimize energy production.

Individuals can also use water-free technologies to enhance ecological sustainability further.

Applying Water-Free Devices

In Saudi Arabia, energy professionals must clean their solar panels daily. The country’s dust storms reduce panel efficiency by 90% on average. Most of Saudi Arabia’s water comes from desalination because of the arid climate.

Researchers explored the environmental challenges around solar power production in the area and developed the Nomadd device. The technology uses a zero-water dry sweep to reduce resource exploitation. It also contains a solar-powered lithium-ion battery, which enhances its sustainability.

Utilizing Static Electricity

Another dust removal device preserving freshwater supplies uses static electricity. In nearly one month, dust particle buildup reduces electrical output by 40% on average. Rather than spraying panels with almost 10 billion gallons of water annually, individuals can remove dust with static electricity.

The dust-removal device contains aluminum and zinc oxide, which bind to a panel’s floor. The additives act as conductors and help remove dust. Maintenance professionals can hover a metallic plate over solar panels and release around 12 kilovolts of electricity.

Dirt and dust become positively charged under the plate. The metallic component remains negatively charged and repels mud particles from solar panels. Static electricity devices can restore a panel’s depleted energy by nearly 95% on average.

Dust Removal Technology’s Benefits

When solar professionals adopt and install dust removal and damage prevention technologies, they can support net-zero emissions goals. Various nations plan on developing clean electric grids to minimize society’s reliance on fossil fuels. The National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) created a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to improve power sustainability standards.

The organization develops efficiency standards for low-impact power production technologies. NRDC employees can regulate desert solar farms and integrate dust removal systems. Companies may also benefit from the technology by enhancing their clean energy access.

When businesses access high-efficiency solar energy, they can meet eco-consumers’ demands. Creating a low-impact power grid with dust prevention technology can also protect individuals’ health. Minimizing fossil-fuel-related greenhouse gas emissions may preserve society’s lung health.

When individuals inhale emissions, their risk of developing lung cancer, asthma, and other respiratory illnesses increases. Another benefit of supportive solar technology is cost-efficiency. Optimizing energy pricing is more essential now than ever before.

Where Is the Technology Most Useful?

Energy professionals can adopt dust and debris removal technologies to keep solar panels clean throughout the country. In low-precipitation regions like Los Angeles, the systems can help preserve the freshwater supply. Individuals may also apply similar technologies to panels in the north for snow removal

Emily Newton's picture
Thank Emily for the Post!
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