Renewable Energy: InfraRed Monitoring of Dust Impact on Solar Panel Efficiency

Kinney, David (2017) Renewable Energy: InfraRed Monitoring of Dust Impact on Solar Panel Efficiency. [USQ Project]


Ever since that day in 1752 when Benjamin Franklin flew a kite in a thunderstorm with a key attached to the end of a silk string and effectively captured lightning in a jar the human race has sought after ways of entrapping what was once a mysterious force that held mankind in mysterious awe, and bending it to their will. Two thirds of our species now fully relies on electrical energy to sustain our normal way of living. Mankind quickly came up with more and more ways of capturing energy, and it is only in recent decades that it was realised that not all of them were environmentally sustainable or friendly. Then the solar cell and PV panel technology was developed. This was, a device that harnessed the power of the sun, a source of energy that currently sustains all life on earth, and would be around much than mankind’s foreseeable future.

This project aimed to test the effects of airborne dust and contaminants that may gather on the surface of a photovoltaic cell and measure the efficiency in terms of the losses.

Results showed that with less than 1 gram of dust the output of a solar panel could be reduced by up to 12%. A significant amount when dealing with large arrays such as the one megawatt installation at the University of Southern Queensland Toowoomba campus. Results also suggest monthly or seasonal cleaning depending on your bargaining skills with the cleaning service provider and future work recommends investigation into an automatic solar panel cleaning robot.

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Item Type: USQ Project
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Master of Engineering Sciences (Electrical)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering (1 Jul 2013 - 31 Dec 2021)
Supervisors: Helwig, Andreas; Das, Narottam
Date Deposited: 08 Sep 2022 03:47
Last Modified: 08 Sep 2022 03:47
Uncontrolled Keywords: renewable energy; dust impact; solar panel; efficiency; airborne dust and contaminants

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