White Paper

26 September 2019


Extreme Weather Full O&M services Grid maintenance MENA

Estimated reading time: 10 min

Shoring Up Solar Operations in Dusty Desert Conditions

Abundant all year round sunshine makes the MENA region just the right breeding ground for solar energy production. Having said that, the dusty desert conditions make for challenging and risky operations. Good news is that these risks and challenges can be overcome given the advancements in solar technology. After all, if the panels are covered with dust and sand, they aren’t receiving as many rays of sunlight. Additionally, sand and the UV light have an adverse effect on the performance of the panels and cause backsheet degradation.

Cleaning is most crucial in regions with high and moderate soiling i.e. the MENA region. The soiling rate depends on a number of factors including temperature and precipitation. Evidently, regions with a high soiling rate require regular cleaning, whereas areas with moderate soiling need infrequent cleaning and often solely during the dry season. Moreover, special circumstances such as bird droppings and pollution, affect the frequency of cleaning. Soiling is amongst the many factors affecting the equity return of solar projects. It influences the revenue by reducing the PV yield, which can be partly mitigated by cleaning. Furthermore, the cleaning calls for upfront infrastructure and ongoing costs potentially escalating over time, which lead to an increase in the overall project cost. So, how does one go about desert-proofing solar operations in the MENA region? The answer to this question informs the content of this white paper by peering beneath the following pillars:

  • Measuring & monitoring soiling levels
  • Preventative methods and module protection
  • Optimum cleaning schedules and strategies
  • Cleaning solutions available on the market

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