Solar voltaic panels, which at their best only have about 25 percent efficiency for converting direct sunlight into electricity, have even less efficiency than this when dust and heavy air pollution is factored in. A number of solar innovations can deal with desert dust and sand storms including Martian technology from earth to Mars space programs for ‘zapping’ dust from solar panels on terrestrial unmanned exploration vehicles.
Due to frequent dust and sand storms in the United Arab Emirates (like at Shams solar plant) and other parts of the Middle East, the efficacy of the solar cells is reduced even less if they are afterwards covered with dust. In order to alleviate this problem, a researcher, Sergey Biryukov at Israel’s Ben Gurion National Solar Energy Center came up with the idea of using an electrical field to “charge” the dust particles and repel them from the solar panels.He also specializes in optimizing solar energy output under clouds.
But in his new technique Biryukov applies two electrodes to repel the dust. One electrode charges the particles through a process called field charging, or ion bombardment. This gives all particles, regardless of size, the same charge, Biryukov says. Another electrode bearing the opposite charge then repels the particles. According to another researcher at the Center, David Faiman, the dust particle repelling technique also is useful in periodic cleaning of the panels.
Watch how electric charge can repel dust:
Areas in the Middle East where fog storms and dust storms are frequent and solar energy is beginning to be incorporated into local electrical systems may well benefit from Biryukov’s technique, one it is put into actual production.
Better yet: Biryukov has created a special computerized control system designed to pick the right moment for cleaning of the dust.
Read more on solar panel issues and maintenance:
Could These Egyptian Laser Panels be the Future of Solar Panels?
DIY Solar Panels Made of Grass That Anyone Can Make
Chamelic Invents Answer for Desert Solar & Dust
Martian Technology Proposed for Zapping Dust From Solar Panels
Top image Dubai Afternoon Sand Storm by Shutterstock; lower image of dusty Amman, Jordan by Laurie Balbo