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How Solar PV Farms Can Benefit from Snow Melting & De-icing

How Solar PV Farms Can Benefit from Snow Melting & De-icing

PV solar modules have become an increasingly popular source of clean energy in recent years, but one major challenge that can impede their performance is snow accumulation. When snow builds up on the surface of PV solar modules, it can block the sun's rays from reaching the cells and decrease the amount of energy that is generated. In this article, we will explore the problem of snow accumulation on PV solar modules and present a solution that can help to mitigate this issue: melting the snow.


The Problem of Snow Accumulation on PV Solar Modules

Snow accumulation on PV solar modules can significantly decrease the amount of energy that is generated. According to a study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, a single inch of snow on a PV solar module can reduce its energy output by as much as 25%. This can be a significant loss, especially in regions where snowfall is common during the winter months.

Currently, there are a few methods for removing snow from PV solar modules, but each has its own limitations. 

One common method is to use a snow rake to manually clear the snow from the modules. However, this can be time-consuming and labor-intensive, and it also poses safety risks for the person doing the work. 

Where PV modules are mounted on the ground, large machinery scrapes and blows away the snow, but this process can be time consuming and lead to costly damage. This solution cannot be used for rooftop installations.

A less common method is to use a robot to clear the snow, but these can be costly to install, do not effectively push aside all the snow, and have moving parts that require ongoing maintenance and repair when they break down.

Another less known method is to use heated cables or blankets to melt the snow. Electric trace heating mats using cables may be easy to install but can get costly, take a long time to heat, and rack up electricity expenses.

The Solution: HEAT ROLL™ Snow Melting & Deicing Mats Under Solar PV Modules

One solution to the problem of snow accumulation on PV solar modules is to melt the snow using HEAT ROLL™ Snow Melting & Deicing Mats Under Solar PV Modules. This can be done by installing a cost-effective printed carbon ink electric heating film that uses less electricity to effectively generate and transfer heat. The heat transferred through to the surface of the PV module panel causes snow and ice to melt and slide off the modules.

There are several potential benefits to this solution. First and foremost, it can significantly increase the energy generation of PV solar modules by preventing snow from blocking the sun's rays. Supplying a trickling amount of heat for just 5 minutes before sunrise can result in significant cost savings and increase yield opportunity for the owner of the solar array. In addition, a snow melting system can be automated to turn on during daylight hours to prevent snowfall build-up and reduce the need for manual labor and minimize energy usage.

Installing HEAT ROLL™

While the concept of melting snow from PV solar modules may seem simple, there are several technical details that must be considered when implementing this solution. One of the main challenges is ensuring that the heating system is properly sized and placed to effectively melt the snow from the modules. It's also important to consider the weather conditions in the area where the solar array is located, as well as the amount of snowfall that is typical for that region.

Another key consideration is the cost of the solution. The cost of installing and maintaining a snow melting system can vary depending on the size of the solar array and the type of heating system used. It may also be beneficial to include additional insulation in colder temperature regions to increase efficiency of the system. It's important to conduct a financial analysis to determine the potential return on investment and determine if the solution is financially viable.

Final Thoughts

Snow accumulation on PV solar modules can significantly decrease their energy generation. One solution to this problem is to melt the snow using a heating system. While there are several technical and financial considerations to be made, the benefits of increased energy generation and cost savings make it worth exploring as a viable option. Further research and development are needed to optimize the design and cost-effectiveness of the snow melting system. Implementing such a solution can be a step towards making PV solar modules more reliable and efficient source of clean energy.

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