Enhanced Photovoltaic Soiling in an Urban Environment

Sarah Toth, Michael Deceglie, Michael Hannigan, Marina Vance

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

8 Scopus Citations


Natural soiling, or the deposition of ambient particulate matter (PM) onto the surface of solar glass, causes losses in PV production around the world. Much work in the PV community has focused on soiling in dusty desert environments. However, PV systems in urban environments are exposed to different contaminants and thus soil differently. We present an analysis of PV soiling in such an urban environment considering the impacts of meteorological parameters. We present 1 year of results from a soiling station in an urban location in Colorado. Bare glass samples were exposed outdoors for 11 days alongside the station; results from microscopy and light transmittance measurements show how moisture and dew affect the morphology and optics of contamination on glass. The coupon results suggest that natural (rain) cleanings may not be sufficient to clean solar panels in urban environments. Ion chromatography of soiling on the reference cell surfaces suggest that dry brush cleanings may not sufficiently clean chemicals deposited on solar panel surfaces in urban environments.

Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages4
StatePublished - Jun 2019
Event46th IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference, PVSC 2019 - Chicago, United States
Duration: 16 Jun 201921 Jun 2019


Conference46th IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference, PVSC 2019
Country/TerritoryUnited States

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 IEEE.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-5K00-74102


  • photovoltaic cells
  • soil
  • solar energy
  • solar panels


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