Worldwide demand for solar technology has grown exponentially over the past decade, inspiring tons of research and development into solar tech across the globe.
Though the idea of the free generation of electricity from the inexhaustible sunlight is promising, solar energy still faces many hurdles before the world can truly replace fossil fuels.
In one of the largest solar power studies to date, Dr. Mahmoud Dhimish, a lecturer in Electronics and Control Engineering at the University of Huddersfield has gained understanding on how “hot spots” impact the performance of polycrystalline silicon photovoltaic, or the PV panels, in certain regions.
His latest insights could help bring researchers one step closer to perfecting solar tech.
PV Hot Spots
The challenges associated with solar include, its reliability, efficiency, and overall costs. One common technical issue that can impact all three of these factors are hot spots. For the uninitiated, hot spots are areas on solar panel with an elevated temperature.
These specific high-temperature areas result in a lower power output, decreasing the efficiency of the panels and eventually accelerates the degradation of the panels. Hot spots can completely destroy a solar panel.
Alongside other major European countries the UK has been hungry for renewable energy like solar, and less dependant on fossil fuels. Dhimish’s UK based research examined 2,580 polycrystalline silicon photovoltaic (PV) panels distributed across the region.
Within his research, the Photovoltaics Laboratory co-director discovered that the country is suffering from an overall 25% power loss because of hot spots. Curious about what may be causing the hot spots on the panels, Dhimish discovered that the physical location of the solar panels in the region is the primary factor in the distribution of hot spots.
Interestingly, hotspots showed up in a higher density in the North of England where most of the solar panels are inland, compared to the solar panels found on the coasts. As stated in the research, “Over 90% of the hot spots are located in the north and most of these are inland…”.
Dr.Dhimish believes that the cooler winds from the coastal region protect the photovoltaic panels from damage. Dhimish recommends “...installing [solar panels] in coastal locations because they are less likely to be affected by the hot spotting phenomenon and that the solar energy industry must start investigating the impact of PV hot spotting.”
Do you think solar energy will be a viable solution in the near future?