The scorching sun should be good for generating solar power – isn’t it? However, the current heat wave is bad news for solar panels.
Germany broke a new record for solar power generation recently. Plus, solar power could meet up to a quarter of the nation’s power needs in the United Kingdom. On the flip side, western Europe is facing heat waves that many countries have never seen before. The “killer” heatwave is hampering solar panels.
On the one hand, the extreme temperatures are causing damage to the environment with fires and storms. On the other, they are impacting the photovoltaic systems as they no longer produce energy when it is hot. Solar panels absorb sunlight with their photovoltaic cells. The photons soaked in by the panels knock the electrons loose from their atoms and form an electrical circuit within the semiconductors of the panel, thus generating a flow of electricity.
The solar panels get typically tested at a temperature of 25°C (77°F), an ideal temperature at which this process occurs within solar panels under optimal circumstances. However, when the temperatures touch higher ranges, no matter how bright the sun is shining, efficiency starts dipping for the panels.
Excessive heat affects the number of the panel’s electrons, reducing the panel’s generated voltage and efficiency. Moreover, high temperatures can decrease the efficiency of solar panels by 10 to 25 percent. Plus, for every degree Celsius more reported by a solar panel, its efficiency drops by 0.5 percentage points.
There are many factors that solar panel installers need to consider when designing a solar panel system. One of the factors is to look at how hot the roof is likely to get during the year. Next, they can reduce the impact of hot weather by mounting solar panels a few inches above the roof. The installation facilitates airflow to cool the panels.
Plus, solar panels that are built with light-coloured, reflective material can further reduce the amount of heat they absorb. Yet another facet to consider is electronic components that operate the solar panels can be installed in a shaded area behind the panels to help stop them from becoming too hot.