A team of engineers at the University of Toledo in the United States has developed an innovative strip coating that effectively removes snow from solar panels, ensuring continuous electricity generation during harsh winter weather conditions while maintaining peak efficiency.
Solar panels are capable of generating electricity even on overcast days. However, when snow blankets them, it can completely obstruct their ability to harness solar energy. This obstruction can result in an annual loss of up to 12 percent of electricity generation in regions with heavy snowfall.
What sets these self-cleaning strips apart is their versatility—they can be applied to both newly installed and pre-existing solar systems with ease.
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According to Hossein Sojoudi, an associate professor in the Department of Mechanical Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering at the University of Toledo, “the strip coatings are applied to the lower edge of the panel, facilitating passive snow removal without consuming any energy. Our strip coating does not interfere with sunlight absorption or panel efficiency at any time, avoids partial shading or hotspots on the panel and does not void the module warranty; in fact, it enhances the module’s lifespan.”
Tests conducted in both the United States and Japan have demonstrated that solar panels equipped with these strips achieve an annual power generation increase of more than 5 percent.
As of the previous year, solar energy accounted for approximately 3.4 percent of electricity generation in the United States, as reported by the Energy Information Administration. Furthermore, more than half of the new electricity-generating capacity projected for 2023 in the U.S. is anticipated to come from solar sources.
In collaboration with industry partners, Dr. Sojoudi anticipates that thousands of these strip coatings will be installed across the United States by the close of 2023. He remarked, “we estimate that we will reach a production rate of 1 million strip coatings by the end of 2024. Our solution represents a ground-breaking technology that has the potential to generate an additional $150 million in annual revenue across regions prone to heavy snowfall… With the assistance of our strategic partners, we are delivering on the promise of year-round solar energy.”