PacB Group // Maximising Solar Energy Production: Importance of Regular Solar Maintenance


Maximising Solar Energy Production: Importance of Regular Solar Maintenance

Renewable energy, particularly solar energy, is being adopted at an unprecedented rate as the cost of installations decreases. With the solar power roll-out comes a commensurate need for solar maintenance. In many countries, the levelised cost of solar energy has become lower than that of coal-derived energy.

According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the global weighted average levelised cost of electricity (LCOE) for solar photovoltaic (PV) was between 3 to 8 US cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) by 2020, while the LCOE for coal-fired power generation was between 5 to 17 US cents per kWh. This means that in many parts of the world, solar energy has become cheaper than coal energy.

A report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) states that solar PV is now the cheapest source of electricity in history, as the cost of solar PV has fallen by 90% over the past decade. The report also indicates that in most parts of the world, solar PV is now the cheapest way to produce electricity, and this trend is expected to continue.

Proper solar panel maintenance and installation are crucial to ensuring the longevity and efficiency of these systems. Solar panels are designed to last for decades if they are properly installed and maintained. Solar maintenance maximises the potential lifetime yield of solar power plants.


Benefits of Proper Solar Maintenance and Installation

Quality solar panels are a reliable, low-maintenance source of renewable energy. They provide clean backup energy, save on electricity bills, and reduce carbon emissions. Proper basic panel maintenance provides several benefits, including increasing plant efficiency and extending plant life, providing a longer-term return on investment. Regular solar maintenance, such as physical inspection, can identify and address issues before damage is caused. Solar maintenance keeps generation levels high, reducing the demand for non-renewable power and benefiting the environment.


Basic Solar Maintenance of Solar Power Generation Plants

Basic solar maintenance of sun power plants typically involves regular inspections and cleaning of the solar panels, as well as monitoring and maintenance of the supporting electrical and mechanical components. Plant yield monitoring is critical for determining whether the panels are performing to expected standards. Solar power plants should be monitored regularly to ensure that they are operating at optimal levels. This is typically done with the use of sophisticated software tools that track the performance of individual solar panels as well as the system as a whole.

Typical solar maintenance involves activities such as cleaning the solar panels. Dust, dirt, and other environmental debris accumulates on the surface of solar panels and reduces their efficiency over time. Regular cleaning of the panels is necessary to ensure maximum energy production. According to a study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), soiling or dirt accumulation on solar panels can significantly reduce energy yield. The degree of energy loss due to soiling is determined by a number of factors, including the type of soil, the frequency and amount of rainfall, and the angle and orientation of the panels, making the requirements for solar maintenance site-specific.

In addition to solar maintenance regarding panel cleaning, it is also important to regularly inspect the solar panels and their supporting structures for damage, wear and tear, or any other issues that could affect their performance. Any necessary repairs or replacements should be made promptly to minimise losses.

The electrical connections between the solar panels and the inverters and combiner boxes should be checked regularly for any loose or damaged connections. Anywhere where an electrical connection is made is a potential point of failure. Electrical issues are often caused over time by corrosion or galvanic activity. Regular solar maintenance will help identify problems so that they can be addressed immediately to prevent fires or reductions in plant yield.

Even though modern inverters and other plant components are robust with long service life expectancies, components such as inverters, batteries, and charge controllers can wear out over time and need to be replaced periodically. Proper solar maintenance, regular inspections, and close monitoring will help identify components that need to be replaced before they reach the point of failure.

Solar panels are durable by design, but they can still get damaged over time. Solar maintenance should include regular physical inspections of panels for early detection of any signs of damage, such as cracks or scratches, particularly in the silicon cells. Where damage is detected, immediate repair or panel replacement (with one of the same type) should be undertaken.


Start with a Well-Designed and Properly Installed System

Applying rigorous solar maintenance to a poorly designed and badly installed solar power plant is, at best, an exercise in damage control. To ensure that you get the best return on your investment in solar power, choose a reputable installer with a proven track record and substantial experience in installing solar power systems. Choose components that are made by recognised manufacturers and come with bankable warranties. Solar maintenance then becomes an optimisation process and not damage control.

When installing solar panels, it’s important to use high-quality components that can last for decades, just like the panels themselves. Professional installers will, where budget allows, use durable materials such as aluminium and stainless-steel components that are resistant to corrosion, do not require painting, and do not create potential corrosion points when cut or drilled. This is particularly important in harsh or corrosive environments.

Roof-mounted systems should be designed properly to provide a cooling area of about 120 mm between the roof and the underside of the panels. Solar panels tend to perform better electrically when they are cooler rather than hotter. Additionally, having a gap between the panel and roof can prevent debris from accumulating, making solar maintenance easier, as clearing anything that gets between the roof and panels is much easier.


Large-Scale Solar Energy Generation is a Complex Field

With a long-standing history of technical excellence and outstanding service, PacB is a leader in power generation in Southern Africa. Our company specialises in a wide range of energy generation solutions, from renewable energy systems such as solar to large, industrial-scale diesel gensets. You can rely on our skilled engineers and technicians to design and implement a top-of-the-line power solution that meets the unique needs of your business.

By choosing us at PacB, you can avoid the financial and operational risks associated with getting it wrong the first time. We boast an unimpeachable reputation and are experts in developing integrated hybrid solutions using both diesel generators and renewable energy sources. Whatever your needs may be, we are equipped to install and maintain any form of energy system, including solar maintenance. We have skilled personnel in a variety of fields, so we are able to offer a one-stop-shop, even for hybrid solutions. Explore our website today, contact us, and engage with a trusted industry leader.


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