Impact of World’s Heat and Dust Waves on the Performance and Economics of Photovoltaic Solar Energy Projects

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Authors: Maher A.R. Sadiq Al-Baghdadi
Page Range: 227-250
Published in: International Journal of Energy, Environment, and Economics, Volume 30 Issue 3
ISSN: 1054-853X

Table of Contents

ABSTRACT

Global climate change has increased the frequency of extreme heat waves. Heat waves contribute significantly to dry and dusty conditions, which cause PV solar modules to accumulate dust and fine particles. A solar module’s efficiency decreases dramatically as the temperature rises and less sunlight reaches the solar cells due to dust particles. The annual impact of heat and dust waves on the performance and economics of the PV solar energy project at the University of Kufa – Iraq has been studied in detail. To the author’s knowledge, this is the first study that analyzes the combined effect of heat and dust waves annually on the performance of PV solar modules. Three-dimensional computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model for a PV solar project has been developed. The model considers all layers of the PV solar module, including the front glass, crystalline cells, and the back sheet. User-defined functions were used to create the solar simulation model, the temperature, dust, and irradiance data from the weather, and the source terms for the solar system. The results showed that the system’s overall annual efficiency decreased by less than half due to the heat and dust waves, as it caused a major shortfall in the power supply. Reduction in energy production, as well as increasing cooling costs due to heat waves, along with increasing frequent cleaning costs due to dust waves, lead to a lower return on investment for PV solar energy projects. Consequently, this can have a significant impact on the energy security, economic viability and financial success of PV solar projects.

Keywords: solar energy projects, heat waves, dust waves, climate change, energy security and economy

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