In California, with the official passage of SB 49, renewable technology developers are encouraged to build energy infrastructure, including solar, along the state’s highways, exits, and interchanges. This is great, but there’s a small unaddressed issue that must be discussed further: solar panel soiling.
Soiling refers to the accumulation of pollution and particulate matter that can emanate from gas-powered cars and trucks. This material can significantly hamper a solar panel’s effectiveness at generating clean energy. Traditionally, asset owners settle for hiring manual cleaners twice annually, which is often insufficient at combating soiling losses, while endangering their panel’s warranty. Unless the solar industry agrees to standardize the use of adequate soiling solutions, like RST NightWashTM, the newly developed systems from SB 49 will be doomed to underperform throughout their lifespans.
To truly harness the potential of solar energy along roadways in California, it's imperative that solar developers incorporate innovative technologies like RST NightWashTM when installing panels. Most operations and maintenance (O&M) specialists will have you believe that the solution is to place sensors on solar panels to detect when there's enough soiling losses that would warrant hiring manual cleaners. This retroactive method is flawed in that it requires the asset owners to accept production losses until their sensor goes off.
Instead of over-engineering the problem and wasting energy tracking day-to-day soiling losses, developers should start affixing RST NightWashTM to their solar arrays. Just one easy installation, and the RST system will automatically clean the solar panels at regular intervals, using negligible amounts of water. With this proactive soiling solution, solar panels can be cleaned multiple times each week, preventing roadside solar panels from experiencing significant soiling losses.
As California marches towards a cleaner and more sustainable energy future, it's crucial to address the issue of soiling losses in solar energy production. SB 49's vision of expanding solar infrastructure is commendable, but it's equally important to ensure that these installations operate at peak efficiency. RST NightWashTM is a simple, cost-effective, and sustainable solution to this pressing problem.
By making automated solar panel cleaning technologies an industry standard, California can unlock the full potential of its solar energy resources and set an example for the rest of the world to follow. Get in touch if you’re ready to embrace this innovative technology and supercharge the Golden State's clean energy revolution.