Dispelling The Myth About Solar Panels Inefficiency In Colder Climate


Danial Hadizadeh, CEO of Mitrex Building Integrated Solar Technology.

A widespread misconception is that solar panels are hardly effective during winter (for those in the northern hemisphere). Although solar panels’ energy results are at their pinnacle when presented to direct sunlight and UV beams, the impact of hot weather should not be confused with reducing energy generation from solar panels during colder seasons.

It’s no secret that the measure of sunshine on a given day throughout the winter may be more limited than during the summertime. But when the sun is shining on a solar panel, the panel will then generate electricity, no matter the temperature outside.

The more significant thing to keep in mind is the measure of sun that the panel will be exposed to throughout the year rather than on a given day.

When adding solar to any building or construction site, building owners should also consider the effect of shading from dust or snow on solar panels. Recent studies have revealed that different solar panel orientations can benefit the electrical system as a whole and vertical orientation can significantly reduce shading due to gravity being on its side versus the traditional horizontal installing methods.

Orientation And Position Of Solar Panels

The orientation of the solar panels is the most significant aspect in terms of solar energy generation due to the power being maximized at a vertical orientation (facing south if you are in the northern hemisphere). This placement ensures that the system will produce the maximum amount of energy as the sun arrays directly hit the panels and allow for a significant generation of electricity.

For many early adopters, it is becoming popular to include solar cells into the building envelope, where it acts as a source of energy and supports the building with traditional materials. Buildings can then use unused space with solar materials like cladding.

It can be difficult to determine the correct orientation and areas to install these panels, but it is possible if you include the right professionals.

Efficiency

Solar energy works efficiently in regions with enough light—whether in warmer or colder climate conditions. Thus, solar can be adopted in nearly any country due to its ability to generate power through the sun. In fact, in colder climate countries, solar panels operate with the most efficiency with reduced daylight hours.

My advice is to fully utilize the potential of sustainable, power-generating systems, for any building in many parts of the world.

Performance

Solar panels can thrive in winter weather, even with shorter daylight hours. Solar cells are a semiconductor, and just like the CPU in your computer, the efficiency improves as the temperature goes down.

Most manufacturers have proven the panel’s effectiveness with various weather testing to ensure that each panel’s efficiency operates at a maximum capacity. For a panel to get approved for the market, it needs to undergo plenty of testing to ensure that the solar panels can tackle any severe weather conditions, including hail or heavy snow.

Make sure you research the commercial products available in solar, though. For example, one of the critical things to factor in is the durability and self-maintenance feature of your solar panels; a proper front coating can clean itself off while it rains, making it more maintenance-free and keeping the panel’s operational efficiency by washing away any residue like dust or dirt.

Energy Production

Depending on an exact location, the predicted annual output of sunlight varies. On average, during seasonal variations and throughout your 25-plus year solar investment, the system will accumulate enough energy to be used even during colder climates with lower sunlight input.

Nonetheless, the overall summer output generation produced is higher than in winter, yet the results during shorter days of sun can still be adequate. In addition, because the system grid can back up the extra energy from the summer output, the loss of daylight in the wintertime is often not critical because of the excess power generated.

From another perspective, the winter months can also be the best time to invest in solar panels for building owners from an economic standpoint. Like with industries like HVAC, the demand for solar panel installation is often at its lowest point during the winter.

Storage

Energy storage systems have not always been sustainable and have contributed to extracting greenhouse gases. As a result, energy storage projects have increased their research and the urgency to improve their systems to increase green initiatives and solutions.

For building owners, it is helpful to know that they may store excessive energy generated and lower their demand from the grid during peak hours. This is especially helpful so business can continue even with days with less sunlight.

Alternatives

Solar energy is a great alternative, especially for buildings like warehouses due to their increased consumption of electricity in day-to-day operations; other types of buildings, like skyscrapers, can typically generate a great portion of their energy needs during the day. There are many technologies and innovations in solar power to look into when it comes to solar.

Even for large commercial buildings, solar energy generation can significantly cut utility costs and is an alternative to cut down on greenhouse gases, especially in the building sector who is responsible for over 40% of greenhouse gas emissions.

Dispelling The Myth

Several decades of research show that more power than many realize can be harvested from the panel during colder days. PV panels ultimately create energy from the sun’s radiation and not from the sun’s heat. Also, new solar cells are available that harvest visible light and UV and infrared to contribute to electricity generation. Therefore, even in non-ideal climate conditions, I have seen how it is still more than a viable renewable power source.

Solar is an abundant resource with many different implementations. Biggest of all, it is a solution that fights the world’s most prominent climate change struggles. My personal goal here is to help businesses become more informed about solar panels’ possibilities and dispel the myths of solar inefficiency in a colder climate.


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