Regular panel cleaning and air quality improvements increase solar output

Written by
Molly Seltzer
Molly Seltzer, Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment
April 22, 2021

A clean slate and a breath of fresh air have long been seen as keys to rejuvenation, but no one would expect them to help solar farms. According to a study led by Princeton University, cleaning solar panels in heavily polluted regions and improving overall air quality increases solar photovoltaic (PV) electricity generation. The research investigates how particulate matter in the atmosphere and deposited onto solar panels reduces the efficiency of the panels. This video delves into the research and shows that regularly cleaning the solar panels, especially in heavily polluted and dry regions, coupled with air quality improvements can significantly increase PV output. Charles Xiaoyuan Li, who earned his Ph.D. from Princeton’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and now is a senior consultant at Energy and Environmental Economics, and Denise Mauzerall, professor of civil and environmental engineering and public and international affairs and associated faculty of the Andlinger Center, co-authored the paper, along with Mike H. Bergin, a professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Duke University.

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