Research shows that a small amount of cloud cover can have a dramatic impact on the amount of power a solar panel produces. Solar Advice director Neil Berrow says there are ways to compensate for South Africa’s cloudy days.
MyBroadband approached Neil Berrow of Solar Advice, who proposed solutions to mitigate the impact of weather instability on solar power generation.
Berrow’s solution is to enlarge the panel and battery system to produce extra energy stores that will cater to cloudy days with low production.
Alternatively, investing in larger energy storage equipment could help to “reserve the power during the erratic seasons and utilise it during the more predictable season,” Berrow said.
Solar panels use photovoltaic (PV) cells to convert sunlight to electricity. When a panel of PV cells absorbs light, electrons that generate electric current are released.
The electric current produced can be used as a direct power source or stored in batteries as a backup power solution.
PV panels can produce power from direct and indirect sunlight, with power production determined by the amount of sunlight hitting the panel.
While PV cells continue to produce power on cloudy days, production is reduced due to clouds restricting the amount of sunlight reaching the panels.
Bloomberg reported that the UK was adopting an artificial intelligence approach to predict weather patterns that hamper energy production.
In addition, a research team in India found that aerosols, dust, and clouds reduce energy production from photovoltaic cells.
Additionally, extreme weather such as hail and strong winds — both of which South Africa experiences during summer storms — can damage solar installations resulting in the need for repair or replacement.