solar panels in weather
Game-changing technology

Scientists invent solar panel coating that lets them work in any weather

July 1, 2021

Engineers have invented a way to passively remove snow from solar panels to allow them to keep generating electricity during adverse weather conditions.

A team from the University of Toledo in the United States developed a strip coating that causes accumulated snow to slide off solar panels without interfering with their efficiency.

Solar panels can generate electricity on cloudy days, however snow cover can completely block their ability to harvest any of the Sun’s energy. This can result in up to 12 per cent loss of electricity generation per year in areas with heavy snowfall.

The self-cleaning strips can also be applied to both new and existing solar installations relatively easily.

“The strip coatings apply to the lower edge of the panel, resulting in passive snow removal without requiring any energy to operate,” said Hossein Sojoudi, an associate professor in the Department of Mechanical Industrial, and Manufacturing Engineering at the University of Toledo.

“Our strip coating does not interfere with absorption of sunlight or panel efficiency at any time, does not cause any partial shading or hotspots on the panel, and does not invalidate module warranty and in fact improves the lifetime of the module.”

Tests in the US and Japan found that solar panels fitted with the strip achieved more than 5 per cent improved power generation annually.

Solar accounted for around 3.4 per cent of electricity generation in the US last year, according to figures from the Energy Information Administration, while more than half of new US electricity-generating capacity in 2023 is forecast to be from solar.

Working with industry partners, Dr Sojoudi said he expects thousands of strip coatings to be installed across the US by the end of 2023. “We estimate to reach a production rate of 1 million strip coatings by the end of 2024,” he said.

“Our solution is a game-changing technology that can lead to an additional $150 million in additional annual revenue, across states with heavy snowfall... Through the help of our strategic partners, we are delivering on the promise of solar energy all year long.”


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