Soiling of photovoltaic modules [electronic resource]: modelling and validation of location-specific cleaning frequency optimization
To increase the deployment of photovoltaic (PV) systems, a higher level of performance for PV modules should be sought. Soiling, or dust accumulation on the PV modules, is one of the conditions that negatively affect the performance of the PV modules by reducing the light incident onto the surface of the PV module. This thesis presents two studies that focus on investigating the soiling effect on the performance of the PV modules installed in Metro Phoenix area.
The first study was conducted to investigate the optimum cleaning frequency for cleaning PV modules installed in Mesa, AZ. By monitoring the soiling loss of PV modules mounted on a mock rooftop at ASU-PRL, a detailed soiling modeling was obtained. Same setup was also used for other soiling-related investigations like studying the effect of soiling density on angle of incidence (AOI) dependence, the climatological relevance (CR) to soiling, and spatial variation of the soiling loss. During the first dry season (May to June), the daily soiling rate was found as -0.061% for 20o tilted modules. Based on the obtained soiling rate, cleaning PV modules, when the soiling is just due to dust on 20o tilted residential arrays, was found economically not justifiable.
The second study focuses on evaluating the soiling loss in different locations of Metro Phoenix area of Arizona. The main goal behind the second study was to validate the daily soiling rate obtained from the mock rooftop setup in the first part of this thesis. By collaborating with local solar panel cleaning companies, soiling data for six residential systems in 5 different cities in and around Phoenix was collected, processed, and analyzed. The range of daily soiling rate in the Phoenix area was found as -0.057% to -0.085% for 13-28o tilted arrays. The soiling rate found in the first part of the thesis (-0.061%) for 20o tilted array, was validated since it falls within the range obtained from the second part of the thesis.