Dust effects on PV array performance: in-field observations with non-uniform patterns



This paper presents the impact of non-homogeneous deposits of dust on the performance of a PV array. The observations have been made in a 2-MW PV park in the southeast region of Spain. The results are that inhomogeneous dust leads to more significant consequences than the mere short-circuit current reduction resulting from transmittance losses. In particular, when the affected PV modules are part of a string together with other cleaned (or less dusty) ones, operation voltage losses arise. These voltage losses can be several times larger than the short-circuit ones, leading to power losses that can be much larger than what measurements suggest when the PV modules are considered separately. Significant hot-spot phenomena can also arise leading to cells exhibiting temperature differences of more than 20 degrees and thus representing a threat to the PV modules' lifetime. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.