A study conducted in the semi-arid weather conditions of Ben Guerir, Morocco, evaluated the performance of antistatic and hydrophobic coatings on solar panels. After nine months of use, the coated solar panels developed by the Portuguese ChemiTek produced an average of 3% more energy than the uncoated ones.
The study, carried out in collaboration with Portuguese antifouling specialist ChemiTek Solar, tested different coating and cleaning strategies on five solar PV systems, all with the same technologies and electrical configurations.
The first photovoltaic system remained uncleaned and no coating or cleaning solutions were applied to it. The second photovoltaic system was periodically cleaned with just water. The third PV system used ChemiTek’s Solar Wash Protect (SWP) cleaning and antistatic protection solution. The fourth and fifth photovoltaic systems, the company’s other solutions D-Solar Defender (DSD) and Industrial Glass Protect (IGP), respectively, used unique combinations of two hydrophobic coatings.
After nine months of operation, the results showed significant efficiency improvements in the coated solar panels compared to the reference system. During the first three-month cleaning period, the average efficiency of the coated PV panels was about 10%. During the six months of non-cleaning that followed, the efficiency was about 5%. The cumulative energy increase of the coated systems compared to the water-cleaned reference was on average 3% after the outdoor exposure period.
Coatings on PV modules significantly reduced the amount of water needed to clean them. For example, the SWP cleaning and antistatic protection solution required 50% less water compared to a system cleaned without cleaning solution. The SWP detergent intended for cleaning and protecting solar modules was more successful in dust removal during the dry season (August-February) with low rainfall. However, during the rainy season (March–April), IGP outperformed SWP and DSD, but there was a slight difference in PV performance.
“This research demonstrates the importance of using new cleaning strategies such as undercoating in dry areas to improve the performance of solar PV systems, which may be useful for investors, researchers and engineers interested in grid-connected photovoltaics and self-cleaning technology,” the researchers said in the recently published “Cleaning of Innovative – and performance analysis of antifouling solutions in the semi-arid climate of Bengueri, Morocco”. Heliyon.