Special Report

Solar Panel Maintenance: A Paramount Requirement

Once installed, solar panels are not that easy to forget; a labour intensive but easy cleaning process needs to be carried out every now and then to maximize its energy output. A health check-upwill ensure that the solar panel will receive maximum unobstructed amount of insolation

India is spearheading with an ambitious programme to reach an installed capacity of 100 GW by 2022 Several states are setting up multiple utility plants of large capacities to herald the arrival of the renewable energy generation. Solar power plants are built to last 25 years or more. Nevertheless, after the engineering procurement & construction (EPC) period is completed, the operations & maintenance (O&M) activities have to be seamless and a well-oiled exercise. This will guarantee that energy generation is in the expected range through the decades though there is an expected degradation of about 4-6 per cent in panel output after a decade. These plants need to be maintained to certify sustained energy generation.

Maximising solar system output
Gajanan Nabar, CEO, CleanMax Solar says, “With development of technology, maintenance of solar panels have become quicker and hassle free. Some of the advanced technologies used for plant maintenance are robotic cleaning and remote monitoring system among others. Automation of maintenance processes using technology will be the key for companies operating and maintaining a large fleet of solar plants.”

Nimish Jain, Head of Global Sales, Modules, Vikram Solar says, “There are some factors that determine the effectiveness and power output of your solar system:
The amount of daylight your solar plant is exposed to throughout the day makes its working quite effective. Make sure your solar plant is positioned to get the sun’s rays throughout the day and is not obstructed by shade or shadow.

Make sure to clean the solar panels periodically to remove the excess debris from your panels. The frequency of cleaning would depend on the pollution and dust level at the location of the solar plant.
Make sure your inverter is working properly. The best way to check your inverter is to look on the front of your system for error codes or red lights; flashing red lights can often indicate a fault. You should also check for any visible signs of an ageing DC isolator (usually alongside the inverter) such as unsealed gaps formed from exposure to heat, sunlight, or cracks. Optimising your inverter would certainly help you maximize solar system capacity.

In line with company’s focus on adopting pioneering and innovative technologies, our manufacturing facility has the finest machinery and equipment imported from the United States, Switzerland, Germany and Japan.”

The modules are nearly free of maintenance requirement in their lifetime and allow modules to survive harshest conditions while satisfying energy requirements with ease.

The solar panel is often thought to be maintenance free. However, sporadic maintenance and inspection of the solar array must be undertaken to ensure the best use of the solar panels. This can be done by keeping the surface area of the module clean from any excess dirt. As there are no moving parts, solar panels necessitate little maintenance. But a build-up of dust, dirt (including ash), gum resin and bird’s nature calls on your solar panels can affect the efficiency and energy output of your system by up to 15 per cent. Rain will wash some of these remains away in time and your system will continue to operate without being cleaned, but to keep your system working at its full potential, a periodic clean is highly recommended. It is recommended for the solar panel owners to examine the structure at regular intervals for dirt or some other things that might have got piled on top. It is important that the panels should be kept clean.

Maintaining and cleaning the solar panels
Solar PV systems are like any other electrical equipment and need to be frequently maintained for secure and competent use. Regular maintenance should be undertaken in accord with the manufacturer’s instructions. Proper maintenance warrants that life of the solar system is preserved for as long as possible and the original conditions of the systems are sustained, while compensating for normal wear and tear. Solar systems necessitate little maintenance as compared to other electric systems such as diesel generators; however, remember that they are not maintenance free – they too need to be checked, examined and maintained.

  • For a general cleaning, you can just use a usual garden hose to wash the face of the panels.
  • Also, avoid spraying them with cold water while they are hot because that might spoil them.
  • If the panels need some more cleaning, you can use a sponge to scrub them.
    Solar panel owners can also get the services of O&M personnel. This is suitable if the panels are too high or need more thorough cleaning.
  • Avoid using a metal brush to clean solar panel surface, the detergents should be kept away.
  • A visual examination of the modules can then be done to check for defects in the modules such as cracks, chips, de-lamination, fogged glazing, water leaks and discoloration.
  • Guarantee the panels and supporting frames are securely protected.
  • The junction boxes should also be checked to make sure that rodents or insects do not chew the wires.
  • Make sure that the fittings and cables at the panels and the inverter remain securely attached.

Over the period of time, solar panels will progressively collect a build up of filth that will reduce the amount of sunlight getting to the panels. Solar panel manufacturers opine that keeping panels clean can improve efficiency by as much as 20 per cent. It is important to be sure any cleaning fluids or materials are non-abrasive and appropriate for the task, so it will not damage the panels or leave remains that can also hinder their efficiency. Therefore, it is essential to have solar panels maintained at regular intervals to avoid deteriorating their lifecycle, efficiency and safety.

Automation of maintenance processes using technology will be the key for companies operating and maintaining a large fleet of solar plants
Gajanan Nabar, CEO, CleanMax Solar.

In line with company’s focus on adopting pioneering and innovative technologies, our manufacturing facility has the finest machinery and equipment imported from the United States, Switzerland, Germany and Japan.
Nimish Jain, Head of Global Sales, Modules, Vikram Solar

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