Photovoltaic panel efficiency can be heavily affected by soiling, due to dust and other airborne particles, which can determine up to 50% of energy production loss. Generally, it is possible to reduce that impact by means of periodic cleaning, and one of the most efficient cleaning solutions is the use of demineralized water. As pauperization of traditional water sources is increasing, new technologies have been developed to obtain the needed water amount. Water extracted from the air using air to water generator (AWG) technology appears to be particularly suitable for panel cleaning, but its effective employment presents issues related to model selection, determining system size, and energy efficiency. To overcome such issues, the authors proposed a method to choose an AWG system for panel cleaning and to determine its size accordingly, based on a cleaning time optimization procedure and tailored to AWG peculiarities, with an aim to maximize energy production. In order to determine the energy loss due to soiling, a simplified semiempirical model (i.e., the DIrt method) was developed as well. The methodology, which also allows for energy saving due to an optimal cleaning frequency, was applied to a case study. The results show that the choice of the most suitable AWG model could prevent 83% of energy loss related to soling. These methods are the first example of a design tool for panel cleaning planning involving AWG technology.
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