Does It Require Special Expertise to Clean Solar Panels?

Before we get into the level of expertise required for cleaning the panels, let’s understand the need for it.

Solar panel cleaning is an integral component of the operation and maintenance of solar PV systems. Experts are of agreement that solar panels covered in dust, debris, snow, etc., produce less electricity than clean, unobstructed panels.

In some areas where the panels are not adequately cleaned, the PV performance was found to degrade by around 25%.To maintain optimal performance of solar panels, periodic cleaning of it is a real requirement.

Coming to the level of expertise needed to clean the solar panels.

Now, this is a tricky question.

There are claims made saying that cleaning solar panels isn’t any different from cleaning a window. But is it really that easy? The level of expertise required for cleaning the panels is dependent on various factors. A few thoughts on it are listed below:

  • Scale of operation

For large scale operation of solar power plants, we’ve generally seen a trend of the owners going for O&M(Operations and Maintenance) companies that have years of experience in maintaining solar panels. They usually have a detailed cleaning schedule for the solar arrays. Most utility-scale power plants approach experts in order to ensure optimal performance of their plants. But this is not usually the case with rooftop solar power plant owners. They usually are instructed by the installers regarding how and how often to clean their solar panels and usually take it on themselves to do the job.

  • Accessibility of solar panels

Now, all solar panels are not easily accessible. For example, in the case of sloped roofs with solar panels, it might not be easy for a common man to do the cleaning by himself. In such a case, it is a common occurrence for the owner to hire a professional to get his system cleaned.

  • The location of the power plant

In areas with high airborne pollutants and high level of contamination, thorough cleaning of the panels is required. It is recommended to clean the glass surface of the module with lime-free water which matches the module temperature .No aggressive cleaning agents, acids or leaches may be used. Experts are usually more aware of how to go about it and are more opted for in such cases than a common man.

  • The kind of inspection involved

Some power plants go another level in order to optimise the power production from their panels. They opt for a monitoring system for the inspection of plants on a daily basis, in order to keep track of any part of the system where optimisation in terms of cleaning or orientation of panels is required. Solar panel cleaning experts often figure in these scenarios as well.

So, to summarise, one can say that although the solar PV systems often need near-zero maintenance for it, there are times when a certain level of expertise may come in handy in terms of cleaning the solar panels. And the expertise requirement is dependent on various factors as discussed above.

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India Renewable Energy Expert