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Source: Joey Kyber/Pexels

Air Pollution May Hinder Up To 25% Of Solar Power Production Each Month

By Brian Spaen

Solar panels are a tremendous and growing renewable resource, but how efficient they are is a major issue and concern. Photovoltaic cells can struggle with picking up the sun’s rays based on position and cloud cover. Even when the sun is beaming right into the solar cells, they can overheat and not absorb as much. Another significant problem is that air pollution particles can build on the panels and hinder absorption. 

Efficiency still hovers below the 50 percent mark in solar panels. The record currently sits at 46 percent with direct sunlight in France and 34.5 percent with indirect sunlight in New South Wales. That’s still remarkably low and since the sun obviously doesn’t shine all the time, it’s a resource that can’t be relied on entirely.

Performance suffers even more when airborne materials accumulate on the solar panels. Duke University engineers teamed up with Indian scientists to figure out just how much atmospheric particulate matter affects energy generation. The university’s professor of civil and environmental engineering, Michael Bergin, was amazed at how dirty panels were at the Indian Institute of Technology-Gandhinagar.