Solar panels : What do we do to withstand heat and climate change? Solar panels : What do we do to withstand heat and climate change?

Solar panels : What do we do to withstand heat and climate change?

Solar panels : What do we do to withstand heat and climate change?

In their national plans, all countries of the world seek to replace a large portion of the electricity generated with traditional fuels, replacing it with another source sourced from renewable energy, primarily solar energy, which requires the installation of more solar panels.

As the pace of installing panels on rooftops and on farms accelerates, the world is getting hotter and the weather is becoming more and more extreme, which exposes these panels to the risk of decomposition, according to an Australian study published in the journal “Progress in Photovoltaics Research and Application.”

Although solar panels are designed to withstand heat, snow, rain and wind, the new study pointed out that their ability has limits, which means that climate change is putting more pressure on them and pushing them towards decomposition faster.

Researchers from the Australian University of New South Wales reached this conclusion after they compared the efficiency of solar panels in different Australian regions, and found that solar panels in the hot and humid north of Australia degrade faster, while they are better off in the arid interior regions and more moderate climates in the South.

What causes solar panels to degrade?
The dominant solar technology is silicon nowadays. Silicon modules degrade due to environmental stress, voltage changes and mechanical stresses. Silicon wafers are quite hard and brittle, and from an environmental standpoint moisture, UV radiation and temperature are the main causes of damage.

Hotter and more humid conditions, which are worsening under climate change, could accelerate the deterioration of solar panels in four ways identified by the study:

Lamination: Heat and humidity can cause the bonds that hold the different layers of a solar cell together to loosen.
Color-changing coating: Intense sunlight and excess moisture can damage or discolour the coating, which is the polymer used to bond the layers inside the solar cell together.
Tape Corrosion: If the weather is more humid often, it increases the chances of moisture accumulating and starting to corrode the inner tape connections of the cell.
Internal circuit failure: Solar cells are exposed to regular temperature fluctuations daily and seasonally, and these temperature changes over time can lead to circuit failure, and a hotter world adds additional stress to the internal circuits, leading to an increased chance of failure.
Climate change: mixed effects
Under the high and low emissions scenarios set out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the results of the study, applied to Australia, predict that rates of decline will increase throughout until 2059.

The study showed that under the high emissions scenario, solar energy would decompose twice as quickly as it did under the low emissions scenario due to excess heat.

As a result, solar farms will be able to produce less energy, and you may have to replace panels because they fail more often. On average, this means a loss of about 8.5% of production due to additional degradation alone by 2059. Under a high emissions scenario, this means that energy could cost 10-12% more.

But the effects will not be equal, as the results show that solar energy in hot and humid regions, such as in northern Australia, will degrade at particularly high rates in the future, compared to arid regions where conditions are hot but dry.

what should we do?
Because heat is the main cause of decomposition of solar panels, and as global temperatures rise further, we must take into account the risk of decomposition when purchasing solar panels.

“ At present, very few solar developers are taking "We take climate change into consideration when purchasing their panels, and those working in humid areas should be more careful when choosing a new location for a solar farm, to ensure that their modules have fewer chances of failing due to degradation."

She adds, "To fix the problem in manufacturing, we will need to incorporate new methods for cooling panels and improve the materials used. We also need to improve manufacturing processes and materials so that we can prevent moisture accumulation inside the panels."

Poddar admits that such industrial interventions are possible, but "the first step is to understand that there is a problem, and that is the goal of the study."

Predictive maintenance urgent intervention

Until industrial interventions occur, whether by developing silicon solar panels or by searching for materials other than silicon, there is an urgent intervention recommended by Gamal Alam El-Din, professor of renewable energies at the Egyptian University of Zagazig, which is “predictive maintenance.”

Predictive maintenance means performing regular inspections and conducting regular performance analysis to identify potential problems early and prevent accelerated deterioration of solar panels. This allows for timely repairs or replacements to maximize the life of solar panels.

Alam El-Din adds in a telephone interview with Al Jazeera Net: “The panels can also be designed with components that can be easily replaced or repaired, which facilitates maintenance and extends the life of the system as a whole. This allows for the targeted replacement of deteriorated components without the need to replace the entire solar panel.”

A research team from the American University in Cairo, led by the head of the university’s Center for Electronics and Nano Devices, Dr. Yahya Ismail, was able about two years ago to facilitate this “predictive maintenance” by producing a unit to monitor and follow up the operation of solar panels, and predict those that are about to be damaged.

In press statements, Ismail explained the idea of ​​its work, explaining that “this unit is located behind each group of solar panels, so that a sensor in it makes continuous measurements of all the panels, through a simple program that alerts the station operator to the possibility that one of the panels will be out of service soon.”

Experiments were conducted on this unit at the research solar station that was launched in December 2021 at the American University headquarters in the Fifth Settlement area in Cairo, and showed good results in proving the concept of predictive maintenance.

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