Solar energy is one of the fastest-growing renewable energy technologies and is playing an important role in reducing our dependency on fossil fuels.
Dirty Solar panels reduce efficiency
Pollution, traffic dust, leaves, and even bird droppings settle on thousands of square kilometers of solar panels. Dirty solar panels prevent sunlight from reaching the solar cells in your solar panels. As a result, solar panels don’t produce as much power as clean panels.
Now researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany have developed an ultra-thin dirt-repellent coating that can make solar panels self-cleaning. They applied crystalline titanium oxide to ultra-thin glass. Titanium oxide has a tendency to repel water, forming drops that easily roll off. However, when it is exposed to UV light it attracts water and keeps the surface wet.
This results in forming a self-cleaning coating. During the day, dirt can’t stick to the surface because of the thin layer of water. However, at night, the water beads up into droplets, and easily roll off, taking the dirt with it.
Additionally, when the titanium oxide is activated with UV light, it decays organic molecules and sterilizes the surface.