Aerosol Deposition and Solar Panel Performance

Monday, 14 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
William P Arnott1, Alex Rollings1, Samuel J. Taylor1, Jordan Parks1, James Barnard2 and Heather Holmes1, (1)University of Nevada Reno, Atmospheric Sciences Program, Department of Physics, Reno, NV, United States, (2)University of Nevada Reno, Reno, NV, United States
Passive and active solar collector farms are often located in relatively dry desert regions where cloudiness impacts are minimized. These farms may be susceptible to reduced performance due to routine or episodic aerosol deposition on collector surfaces. Intense episodes of wind blown dust deposition may negatively impact farm performance, and trigger need to clean collector surfaces. Aerosol deposition rate depends on size, morphology, and local meteorological conditions. We have developed a system for solar panel performance testing under real world conditions. Two identical 0.74 square meter solar panels are deployed, with one kept clean while the other receives various doses of aerosol deposition or other treatments. A variable load is used with automation to record solar panel maximum output power every 10 minutes. A collocated sonic anemometer measures wind at 10 Hz, allowing for both steady and turbulent characterization to establish a link between wind patterns and particle distribution on the cells. Multispectral photoacoustic instruments measure aerosol light scattering and absorption. An MFRSR quantifies incoming solar radiation. Solar panel albedo is measured along with the transmission spectra of particles collected on the panel surface. Key questions are: At what concentration does aerosol deposition become a problem for solar panel performance? What are the meteorological conditions that most strongly favor aerosol deposition, and are these predictable from current models? Is it feasible to use the outflow from an unmanned aerial vehicle hovering over solar panels to adequately clean their surface? Does aerosol deposition from episodes of nearby forest fires impact performance? The outlook of this research is to build a model that describes environmental effects on solar panel performance. Measurements from summer and fall 2015 will be presented along with insights gleaned from them.