PV Cleaning - Choosing the Optimal Method & Frequency

By: Michael Schmela, Executive Advisor

It is always a pleasure to moderate webinars with our consultancy members, as they share some of their vast experience within the SolarPower Europe network. Apricum, a Berlin-based international cleantech advisory company, present a webinar every quarter for SolarPower Europe's members. In October, this webinar provided an overview on 'PV Cleaning: Chosing the Optimal Method and Frequency' - a topic that is of utmost importance for investors in solar power plants in arid regions, in particular as PPA levels rapidly lower, so that every single generated kilowatt-hour counts.

The key points of the PV Cleaning webinar given by James Kurz, project manager at Apricum, were as follows:

As PV development in desert regions has skyrocketed, PV cleaning has become a prominent topic among solar industry professionals working in the utility-scale segment. 

  • In high-soiling, desert regions (like MENA, western China, western India and the Atacama desert), soiling causes losses in PV system yield that are not acceptable to PV plant owners and must be addressed by a cleaning solution.
  • To date, a wide range of solutions - both with and without the use of water - have been applied, including manual cleaning, truck- or tractor-mounted systems, semi-automated robotics and fully automated robotic systems
  • To build a cleaning strategy, developers must solve an optimisation problem with the following groups of variables: site/location specific, project layout specific, operating parameters for different cleaning solutions, cleaning method CAPEX, cleaning method OPEX and cleaning frequency
  • Apricum's calculations for a hypothetical project in Dubai, a region with severe soiling, show full- and semi-automated robotic solutions to result in the highest net present value
  • A one-size-fits-all solution is not possible due to the many variables at play, and an individual analysis for each project is advisable

To learn more about Cleaning of PV Power Plants contact Apricum's James Kurz.