Solar panels can withstand freezing temperatures, hurricanes, and even storms, but if they are not made well, they can cost you billions of dollars.
How is solar energy evolving?
Solar energy has become popular all over the world. Panel prices have fallen 100 times since 1980. It is expected that by 2023 the capacity of installations worldwide will exceed 1 TWh, and by 2050 – 30-100 TW. But everything is not so clear, many paintings created today may not live to see these years, since their quality remains in doubt.
To replace fossil fuels, solar energy must operate reliably, both in the tropics and in the Arctic. Even during storm, cold, heat and snow. So far, solar energy has been very reliable. Most units are guaranteed for 25-35 years. And in the United States, less than 1% of panels failed within the first five years of operation.
If solar panels last for a long time, what is the problem?
Today, solar energy systems are beginning to be placed in various atypical places, for example, in the mountains or on the water. New cell designs, materials and packaging technologies are also entering the market. Therefore, strength tests should become more diverse. In addition, some components that passed quality tests 10 years ago are defective today.
Manufacturers strive to improve energy efficiency and reduce costs, making units larger and thinner: they link many cells together to increase power and speed up production. Disruptions in the supply are possible, for example, due to the epidemic, so some manufacturers use cheap, low-quality or even fake components
Operating and maintaining low-quality equipment costs utilities tens of millions of dollars a year – all this is waste of electricity. Over the decades, the number has risen to billions.
How does the environment affect solar panels?
Solar panels are increasingly exposed to extreme weather conditions brought on by climate change. During a storm in Texas in 2019, the approximately 7 cm-diameter units that power about 20,000 homes were destroyed. The insured’s losses exceeded $75 million.
If such situations are ignored, the spread of solar energy will slow down. The sector will face significant insurance claims, lost revenue, financial risks and security issues. Accordingly, companies will begin to doubt the installation of panels.
If solar panels were easy to destroy and there was a lot of marriage on the market, would you possibly give up on this way of generating power?
Scientists are confident that the technology itself for generating solar energy is incredibly promising and could save lives. For example, when 10 million people lost power during a severe freeze in Texas, USA, about 111 people died and $130 billion was damaged. Thermal power didn’t work, wind turbines were ineffective, but solar production was largely unaffected. It represents 2% of the state’s total energy.
Five steps formulated by experts to overcome the main problems of solar energy
Solar scientists and engineers, investors and consumers have come up with five steps to help make the solar energy sector more sustainable.
- science development
Lab tests and computer models need to be improved to assess the performance of next-generation boards. Researchers need to better understand the organ degradation process. Also, recent panel tests do not always reflect the actual weather conditions in which you will be operating. This may lead to false results.
- Raising quality standards
Quality standards are widely used to test individual components such as plates and diodes. But it does not apply to the entire solar system. If the device is not assembled correctly or there are discrepancies between the components, all this can lead to a decrease in performance. Control should go beyond just factory inspection, using random sampling and checking compliance at every stage of the supply chain – that’s how the food industry works. Standards must also be constantly updated to reflect the latest technology.
- bug tracking
Some operators of large solar arrays are already using infrared or visible cameras on drones and aircraft to track faults. But more advanced analytical methods are needed to quickly read and interpret panel performance data. In the event of a malfunction, it will help to respond quickly and reduce production losses and damages. For these purposes, you can use a neural network: it will help to find even the slightest flaws.
- Make the production process transparent
Manufacturers rarely reveal how the board is made, or list what it is made of. Due to the supply disruptions that have occurred during the pandemic, it is not always known what quality components were used to create the device. Developers, buyers, and testers should request accurate information about the content of the unit.
For example, when New Jersey operators were working at a large facility and checking 12% of inefficient units, the problem turned out to be caused by disruptions during the manufacturing process.
- Information spread
It is essential to disseminate and implement best practices in solar panel production around the world. For example, in hurricane-prone areas. These are simple steps that can save lives: use strong support structures that can withstand storm winds, install frames with bolts or multi-riveters, or use anti-vibration screws, put mounting brackets into the rafters, not just in the ceiling, and do not install the panel near the edge.
All of these methods, which improve the performance of solar panels, are cost-effective compared to the losses caused by climate change. Hurricane outages in the US cost $150 billion in 2018 alone, and floods in Germany in 2022 cost $11.3 billion. Investing in quality solar panels ensures decades of clean, affordable electricity.
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