Researchers from Western University in Canada have found that using double-sided solar modules instead of single-person snow loss can be reduced from double digits to just 2% year on year.
As solar costs have fallen, it now makes economic sense to implement them even in the High North, but there are concerns about the impact of snow on energy production. While solar panels work best at lower temperatures, snow-covered panels will generate less energy, known as snow loss. A study conducted at Western University in Ontario, Canada, shows how to overcome snow loss using solar systems.
The difference between two-person and mono-person modules is that two-person modules absorb light from the front and rear, while single-person modules only collect sunlight from the front. The study analyzed snow losses on these two types of systems using hourly data including energy, solar radiation and albedo, a measure of diffuse reflection of solar radiation.
Researchers have found that by using two-person solar modules rather than trading single-person ones, snow losses can be reduced from double-digit figures to just 2% on an annual basis. The dual-phase solar installation received a 19% increase mainly from snow reflection compared to traditional monopersonal systems.
The study was conducted on pairs of solar panels that used both single-person and two-person modules, and data were generated in both summer and winter to determine snow loss. A camera to monitor the snow cover was sent to each of the arrays. A total of 4,826 images were analyzed for each module from November 2020 to March 2021. 32 images were taken every day with an interval of 15 minutes. The researchers used image processing to automatically identify and quantify snow cover on each module.
The researchers used this information to find out what impact snow had on both arrays when we combined it with pyranometer data and energy values coming out of the modules, according to Joshua Pierce, lead researcher and chairman of John M. Thompson in information technology and Innovation at the Thompson Center for Engineering Leadership and Innovation at Western University.
The two main findings of this study are that 1) two-way modules significantly reduce snow loss because they help clear modules much faster than traditional modules, and 2) two-way modules get a serious blow in the winter from the snow albedo. The results showed that the losses of monocotyledonous snow averaged 33% over the winter and 16% year on year.
Two-person systems work better than single-person ones in harsh winter conditions, as the average winter snow loss was 16% and the annual loss was 2% at worst. In addition, in the winter there was a 19% increase in bi-persons compared to mono-persons.
“Preliminary results have shown that two-person systems work better, but this study has put a nail in the coffin for mono-person systems in the northern United States and Canada. It is clear that all northern solar farms must use two-phase photovoltaic batteries, ”said Joshua Pierce.
The document is published in Renewable energy sources. It comes with free software so everyone can repeat the experiment or conduct a different type of snow-PV study using their own single camera monitoring.
A preliminary studyconducted two years ago at Sandia National Labs, reviewed two-way modules and trackers and found that two-axis modules generally produce 14% more energy than single-module modules, in addition to the expected increase of 35% to 40% from a two-axis tracker.
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