JA Solar has worked with Chinese scientists to test a new electric heating system for solar panels that uses heat from uncovered panels to clear snow. The system starts by using mains electricity, but then relies on the heating effect of the resistance to evenly heat the entire PN junction area of the snow-covered panels.
January 30, 2023 Emiliano Bellini
Chinese scientists have developed a new snow removal system that uses very little grid electricity for off-grid and grid-connected PV systems.
A “domino-like snow removal system” (DSRS) uses electricity from outdoor PV modules to remove snow from solar arrays.
“With high snow removal efficiency, it is almost free of utility energy consumption,” said researcher Wen Liu pv magazine. “The snow removal principle has been confirmed to have no adverse effect on the performance of PV modules through experiments conducted in collaboration with JA Solar, a Chinese PV module manufacturer.”
The string that removes the snow first provides power for subsequent snow-covered strings in a sequence they liken to falling dominoes, the researchers said. The system only uses grid electricity with the first panels, as the PV electricity is responsible for subsequent snow removal.
The DSRS is connected to each of the PV system strings via tee-type MC4 connectors and PV cables. It uses the resistance heating effect to uniformly heat the entire PN junction area of the PV modules.
“Heat is transferred to the snow layer through the EVA film and tempered PV glass, which causes the snow to melt,” the Chinese team said, noting that the system is based on a maximum power point tracker (MPPT) algorithm that activates electricity. extraction process with the use of high sunlight.
“The process of snow melting occurs on the surface of the PV modules, which is considered as one-dimensional heat transfer perpendicular to the surface of the PV modules,” the scientists said.
The researchers tested the prototype system in a real winter snowpack environment and found that it could achieve “good” snow removal in environments with a minimum tilt angle of 27 degrees, a minimum temperature of -14.8 C, and minimal fluctuating solar radiation. 248 W/m2 in off-grid mode.
“The DSRS can deal with different types of snow with a density of 121.05 kg/m3 to 480.10 kg/m3 and a thickness of 15.5 mm to 32.5 mm,” they said.
They said the system could cost between CNY 0.17 ($0.025)/W and CNY 0.29/W installed on PV systems ranging from 10 kW to 30 kW. The payback period is estimated between 2.9 and 4.3 years.
“The bill of materials (BOM) for this add-on box is less than $500, and it can be installed with just a few more power cables and three port connectors, so the cost is really low,” Liu said. “To the best of my knowledge, there is no low-cost solution for snow removal so far, and I believe this technology can be widely applied.”
The research team presented the system in a book, “A Novel Domino-like Snow Removal System for Rooftop PV Arrays: Feasibility, Performance, and Economic Benefits,” recently published in the journal Applied Energy. The team includes scientists from the University of Science and Technology of China, Xiong’an Innovation Institute and JA Solar.
“This paper presents a systematic study on the feasibility, performance and economic benefits of a domino-type snow removal system and confirms that it is an excellent solution for snow removal on PV modules and has great potential for PV deployment in snow-covered areas. several months in the winter,” the group concluded.
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