It is always advisable to conduct scheduled maintenance on products of high value. By regularly maintaining the system you can avoid or minimise reactive maintenance when something unexpectedly fails. EPG have internal expertise within facilities management and can offer O&M across a variety of electrical installations.
For the majority of service contracts, we offer cleaning of the panels, the frequency of which will depend on the local environment i.e. a farm will generate dust during harvest.
Solar panels perform best when clean, soiling of panels can reduce the efficiency (depending which study you take data from) by 5-12%, some claim higher. A good comparison is a recent study by researchers in the Netherlands which shows that solar panels lose up to 7.4% of electricity generation in the first 12 months after installation from pollution alone.
There are many factors that affect the level of dirt build up, the angle of the panel is a key factor; with shallow angles soiling can build up quickly, during the winter mould can be an issue, whereas the summer brings dust and pollen. Subject to the local population of birds and whether there are nearby perches, cleaning can be required more regularly. Although most panels ‘self-clean’ this requires an angle near to 30 degrees but even then, it does not sufficiently clean the panels to avoid soiling completely. Imagine your car windscreen, if you left your car on the drive and did not clean the windscreen it wouldn’t take too long for the dirt and dust to build – a good proportion of the dirt is actually carried and deposited by the rain itself.
In addition to cleaning the panels there are several options that can offer value while to the maintenance contract. These include visual inspections of panels and connections, electrical maintenance such as checking isolators/connections, checking of screws, cleaning of inverter fans and cleaning of distribution panels. We can also conduct interrogative electrical investigations including PI curve testing and thermal image testing for cell/module failure, this helps us to detect and identify early problems i.e. connections operating a very high temperatures. We also offer a complete turnkey solution for ground mount arrays including grass cutting.
We have vast experience with a variety of manufacturers and are often called upon to carry out warranty replacements on projects where the original installer is no longer trading or not able to offer O&M.