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When it comes to maintaining and optimizing the performance of your solar photovoltaic (PV) system, there are various cleaning strategies you can employ. A recent study conducted by the Energy Institute at UTAD in Portugal put these strategies to the test. The goal? To determine which strategy was most effective for decreasing losses due to soiling and protecting the PV cells from further damage.

For the trial, five identical PV systems were used. All featured the same technologies and electricity configurations. The first system was left uncleaned as the control condition. The second was periodically cleaned using only water. The third incorporated ChemiTek’s Solar Wash Protect (SWP) solution, and the fourth employed a proprietary solution developed by the research team called Droplet Shear Driven (DSD) Cleaning Solution. The fifth system was given a combination of treatments, including SWP, DSD, and a hydrophobic coating.

The results showed that over the period of the study, which included periods of dry and wet weather, the most significant factor in maintaining optimal output from the PV systems was periodical cleaning. The tests also revealed that in dry conditions, DSD was the most efficient cleaning strategy, while in the presence of rain, SWP offered the greatest protection against both soiling and further PV cell damage.

However, it was during the rainy season (March-April) that the team saw the best PV performance. That’s when the combination of SWP, DSD and the hydrophobic coating provided the highest performance results. This suggests that when it comes to dealing with rain, a comprehensive cleaning strategy is needed, and that the combination is better than one solution alone.

Overall, the study provides valuable information on how to maximize the efficiency of a PV system over various weather conditions. It clearly shows that regular cleaning and protective coatings are the key to maintaining optimal performance. While this research was conducted in Portugal, the same principles can be applied to solar systems in many other geographical locations. With the right cleaning and protective solutions, you can significantly increase the lifespan and energy production of your PV system.