An Investigation on the Pollen-Induced Soiling Losses in Utility-Scale PV Plants

Joao Bessa, Michael Valerino, Matthew Muller, Mike Bergin, Leonardo Micheli, Florencia Almonacid, Eduardo Fernandez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In this study, the impact of pollen as a PV soiling agent is investigated. The performance data of five utility-scale PV plants in North Carolina, USA, was collected and analyzed using two soiling extraction methods. Satellite and environmental data, including pollen counts, cropland, and vegetation, was also collected and analyzed to identify impacts to soiling losses. During the spring peak pollen season, performance losses of >15% were observed at all five sites. Partial performance recoveries following the pollen season were slow, with lack of correlation with rainfall. This means that the statistical soiling estimation methods that assume abrupt performance recovery from rain are not appropriate for pollen-impacted solar sites. When manual cleanings were performed on site the performance recovery ranged from 5% to 11% indicating persistent soiling impacts are present in this region. The results of this work provide new insights into the phenomenon of pollen deposition on PV systems, demonstrating that 1) soiling can also affect systems located in rainy locations and 2) that its effects cannot be determined using the current estimation methodologies.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)178-184
Number of pages7
JournalIEEE Journal of Photovoltaics
Volume14
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

See NREL/CP-5K00-88827 for related paper published in IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference (PVSC) proceedings

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5K00-87319

Keywords

  • environment
  • performance loss
  • photovoltaic
  • pollen
  • rainfall
  • soiling

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