This is fun

The weather was too hot for solar panels on Tuesday as soaring temperatures reduced their efficiency.

So, the cells they put in deserts, how are they made differently then?

12 thoughts on “This is fun”

  1. They usually just put up with the inefficiency. It’s why proposals to cover deserts in panels rarely go ahead. Panels put in deserts do need different design, but that’s usually about durability.

  2. Marginal costs and all that Tim. Once the PV panel has been paid for the electricity generated costs almost nothing, whether it’s 1 kW or 2 kW. That’s why one idea is to develop dirt cheap PV panels that are printed onto rolls like newsprint. Their efficiency is crap, maybe a few %, but the idea is that they will cost just pennies per square metre so you can put them all over any unused surface at little capex so the inefficiency is swamped by the vast area covered.

  3. When it’s really hot, it’s also generally really sunny so the output is still very high even if the efficiency drops off. Something like 10% less efficiency for every 5°C rise in temperature above 25°C. So if the panel is 22% efficient at 25°C, it’ll be 16% efficient at 40°C, but if there’s 40% more solar irradiation reaching it then it will still put out more electricity.

    Combined heat and power systems exist but are constrained by only producing low-level heat or running the PV panel hotter than optimal. Also much more expensive, so only in contention if expecting extreme heat and there’s somewhere to dump said heat, or space to mount them is a constraint.

  4. Desert solar farms of a size able to produce significant amounts of energy will generate large quantities of extra heat, due to their increased albedo over the natural terrain. This isn’t some convoluted modelled method of CO2 forcings on water vapour at certain altitudes and latitudes, it’s straight up extra solar heating of the planet. There will be consequences.

  5. Well, says Liz Truss, couldn’t we just paint them white? Or Penny Mordaunt: I assume that both are a bit thick.

  6. The problem would be as heat increases, the conductivity of the wiring and efficiency of inverters decreases.

  7. The Antelope Valley in the desert north of Los Angeles is rapidly being covered in solar panels. The Google Earth pictures are several years old and show only half of what is out there. Areas that are too hilly for solar panels get wind generators. The albedo of this area is certainly getting much lower. I wonder if it is showing up in the local temperature data?

  8. Isn’t Green Energy wonderful:

    – Windmills don’t work when it’s calm, “too windy” – does too hot effect ???

    – Solar Panels don’t work when it’s dark, raining, snowing “too sunny”

    Never heard of coal, gas, oil nuclear not working when cold, hot, wet, windy

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