Funding worth £1 million has been provided to commercialise self-cleaning coating to optimise the energy production of solar panels.
Opus Materials Technologies is using the grant from Innovate UK to measure and monitor the impact of extreme weather conditions on the performance of its novel coating by conducting field trials.
It is working with Above Surveying, TWI, Loughborough University and Cornelius Specialities on the project.
According to Opus Materials Technologies, the accumulation dirt and soiling on solar modules deployed in solar farms can reduce their power output by up to 50% per month, which has a direct impact on operations and maintenance costs.
The new coating ‘Solar Sharc’ is said to eliminate surface contamination problems caused by salt, dirt, dust or ash because it removes the need for manual cleaning.
In addition, the firm claims its unique chemical composition, which produces a lotus lead effect, repels external pollutants, making its mechanically resilient to environmental ageing.
The self-cleaning capability is said to help reduce water use too.
David Hannan, Business Development Director and Exploitation Manager for the Always Clean project said: “Extreme arid climates can have a detrimental effect on the performance of solar modules. Our materials-by-design approach to developing this nanotechnology coating means it can be fine-tuned to satisfy diverse requirements and locations without impacting its performance.”