Soiling and Cleaning: Initial Observations from 5-Year Photovoltaic Glass Coating Durability Study

Sarah Toth, Matthew Muller, David Miller, Helio Moutinho, Bobby To, Jeffrey Linger, Chaiwat Engtrakul, Lin Simpson, Leonardo Micheli, Asher Einhorn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus Citations


The contamination of solar photovoltaic cover glass can significantly reduce the transmittance of light to the surface of the photovoltaic cell, reducing the module's power output. The solar industry has been developing antireflection (AR) and antisoiling (AS) surface coatings to enhance light transmittance and mitigate the impacts of soiling. Although uncoated glass has been field tested for decades, minimal data exist to demonstrate the durability of AR and AS coatings against abrasion and surface erosion, including from: natural weathering, airborne sand, and industry cleaning practices. Coupons 75 mm square of varying types have been field-deployed to gather long-term data on coating durability; the initial results are presented here after 1 year of outdoor exposure near Sacramento, California. Duplicate sets of coupons were cleaned monthly per four different cleaning practices. All coupons demonstrated inorganic soiling as well as microscale biological contamination, regardless of cleaning method. Additionally, full-sized, field-aged modules from other areas of the world presented with similar types of contamination as the field-aged coupons; micrographs and results from genomic sequencing of this contamination are included here. Optical microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, atomic force microscopy/energy-dispersive spectroscopy, surface roughness, transmittance, and surface energy analysis of representative specimens and cleaning practices are presented.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)375-384
Number of pages10
JournalSolar Energy Materials and Solar Cells
StatePublished - Oct 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier B.V.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5J00-71853


  • Coatings
  • Durability
  • Fungi
  • Optical performance
  • Particulate matter
  • Soiling


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