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Economics of seasonal photovoltaic soiling and cleaning optimization scenarios

Micheli, Leonardo and Fernandez, Eduardo F. and Aguilera, Jorge T. and Almonacid, Florencia (2020): Economics of seasonal photovoltaic soiling and cleaning optimization scenarios. Published in: Energy , Vol. 215, (7 October 2020)

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The present study analyzes the soiling losses of a 1 MW photovoltaic system installed in the South of Spain. Both the Levelized Cost of Energy and the Net Present Value are used to compare the convenience of different mitigation strategies. It is found that also photovoltaic installations located in moderate regions, where the yearly soiling losses are limited to 3%, can suffer of a severe seasonal soiling, with power drops higher than 20%. In these conditions, an optimized cleaning schedule can be considerably beneficial from an economic perspective. For the given site, an optimal cleaning schedule generates a raise in profits up to 3.6% if one yearly cleaning is performed within a ± 31-day window in summer. The convenience of one and multiple cleaning strategies is investigated by considering variable electricity prices and cleaning costs. In addition, the impact of the module efficiency on the cleaning strategy is analyzed. It is found that an optimized cleaning schedule can enhance the benefits of installing high efficiency modules, as it increases the amount of energy recovered through each cleaning and, therefore, the profits.

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