European consortium develops advanced contamination-repellent solar panel coating

Aug 26, 2019 01:31 PM ET
European consortium develops advanced contamination-repellent solar panel coating
A European consortium of partners has developed an easy-to-clean solar panel coating that repels environmental forces. SolarSharc was created by the Advanced Resins and Coatings Innovation Centre (a strategic partnership between London South Bank University and TWI), Opus Materials Technologies, Onyx Solar, CEA – LITEN, Millidyne and TWI.

The partners successfully secured funding for their project from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program (Grant agreement No. 760311). The patented technology behind SolarSharc bonds multi-functionalized silica nanoparticles to a polymer matrix to produce a transparent, highly durable, self-cleaning, contamination repellent and cost-effective coating for solar panels.

A number of tests were undertaken on a prototype to evaluate the coating including: the production process for the liquid; the deposition method onto solar PV panels; performance and behavior of its properties, particularly when panels are subjected to tilting within a large-scale solar PV system; its optical properties; and it ability to withstand and repel surface contamination. For demonstration purposes, 48 solar panels grouped into sets of six arrays were tested outdoors in operational conditions, including segregation of soiling effects from weather-related factors, half of which were coated in SolarSharc and the other half left uncoated. This made it possible to determine any influence the silicon technology being employed had on the electrical behavior of the coating.

The test results showed that the coating was able to successfully reduce particle density over time on the surface of the solar PV glass, and that the panels it was deposited onto were able to generate more energy than those without the coating. Therefore, with SolarSharc’s properties and efficacy now evidenced, the next steps are in progress to take the product to market including applying for the EIC standard.

“With SolarSharc, we can demonstrate to the solar PV industry that there is now a PV panel coating available, based on highly novel, disruptive technology, that is self-cleaning and leads to better panel performance over time due to the dual benefits of reducing dust accumulation and increasing light transmission,” said Geraldine Durand, Director of the Advanced Resins and Coatings Innovation Centre. “As a consortium, we are in a strong position to take SolarSharc to the market place because each partner operates at a different stage of the solar PV supply chain and this will enable us to exploit the product’s full potential for broad industry take-up.”

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