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Assessing the Vulnerability of Solar Panels to Hail Damage

Introduction

Today I did some research on Solar Panels Hail Damage statistics and this research study came across, titled
“Vulnerability of Solar Panels to Hail Risk” .
This topic outlines an undefinable ‘factor’ that could affect the timing of recycling expectations. Seasonal environmental damages could ramp up generated waste before solar panels reach their expected end of life state.

Solar energy has gained popularity as a renewable and sustainable source of power.

At the end of July 2013, storm “Andreas” caused insured losses of 2.8 billion euros in Germany, the most expensive insured loss event worldwide that year (Punge & Kunz, 2016).
In June 2016, the Netherlands experienced a hailstorm that resulted in the highest hail losses ever recorded in that country. In 2017, extreme weather events in Germany caused total damage of €2.9 billion, of which €1.13 billion was caused by hail to residential buildings. Hail not only causes major damage in Germany and the Netherlands, but also has a global impact on solar panels too.

According to the conclusions of the study damage to modules occurs when ice grains are at least 3 cm in size. At this size, invisible and visible damage often occurs, but from 4 cm the proportion of visible damage increases.

Lets dive into the details of the research:

solar-hail-damage-photo
Understanding the Hail Risk

Hail, a form of frozen precipitation, can pose a significant threat to various structures, including solar panels. When hailstones impact solar panels, they can cause physical damage to the surface, potentially leading to decreased energy generation and efficiency. The severity of the damage depends on factors such as the size, speed, and density of the hailstones, as well as the design and quality of the solar panels.

The research study, available at
https://research.vu.nl/ws/portalfiles/portal/99414733/Final_public_report_Vulnerability_of_solar_panels_to_hail_risk.pdf.

Key Findings of the Study include:

  • Impact Assessment: The study explores the effects of different hailstone sizes and velocities on solar panels, highlighting the variations in damage and potential implications on energy output.
  • Geographical Considerations: The study takes into account regional differences in hail frequency and severity, helping stakeholders understand the specific risks faced by solar installations in different locations.

 

Mitigating Hail Damage

To safeguard solar panel installations from hail risk, the study proposes several mitigation strategies:

  • Design Improvements: The research suggests enhancing the design of solar panels to withstand hail impact, including the development of protective coatings, durable materials, and robust framing systems.
  • Installation Practices: Proper installation techniques, such as tilting panels or incorporating protective barriers, can reduce the angle of impact and minimize potential damage.
  • Location Assessment: Placing solar installations strategically in areas with lower hail risk can significantly reduce the chances of damage.

Recycling Solar Panels

The life cycle of the first generation of solar modules is coming to an end, which may result in a large amount of solar module waste.
Since February 2014, solar modules have been included in the AEEA law in the Netherlands included in the AEEA Act, which is derived from the European version of the ‘Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Act.” This law makes parties that place solar modules on the market, referred to as manufacturers, responsible for the collection and recycling of solar modules at the end of their life (Staatscourant, 2014).

Enforcement of the AEEA regulations is difficult due to the complicated market structure, as it requires extensive knowledge that is only available among market participants. In addition, Dutch authorities have limited resources at their disposal. This leads to a heterogeneous market where there are too many manufacturers that do not participate in the collection and recycling of solar modules (ZRN, 2019).The number of solar panels that are recycled is much lower, but this may also be partly due to more solar panels entering the market than leaving it.
The long-term sustainability of solar modules will depend on both how successful the enforcement of the (W)EEE registry is and the effectiveness of the process solutions adopted to recycle the expected high number of solar modules in the future
(Flavia, Altimari, & Pagnanelli, 2019). The (W)EEE register shows that 77% of registered solar panels in the Netherlands are recycled.

Aerisoul Metal & Energy Corporation s.r.o. is authorised to collect and recycle used pv solar panels in Europe. We provide cost efficient solution to carry out large scale solar panel recycling operations.

For more information: Solar Panel Recycling – Aerisoul

solar-loading

Conclusion

As the world continues to transition towards cleaner energy sources, it is crucial to address potential vulnerabilities that could hinder the reliability and effectiveness of renewable technologies. By implementing the recommended mitigation strategies, solar energy stakeholders can ensure the long-term viability and durability of their installations, contributing to the sustainable growth of renewable energy technologies.

Author:

Segunda-Manuel Izidor
Recycling Manager
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