Atmospheric Pollution / Solar Power Generation?

- Jul 15, 2019-

According to a latest analysis by foreign media, if China can clean up the "hazy" sky, it will increase the installed capacity of large domestic solar panels by 13%, and bring billions of dollars in additional revenue.

Bart Sweerts of the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Switzerland, collected solar radiation data from 119 observatories across China from 1960 to 2015 and combined them with sulfur dioxide and carbon black emissions data to investigate anthropogenic aerosol-induced solar panels. How much is the maximum output weakened? The research was published in the Journal Nature Energy.

Switz and his colleagues found that air pollution reduced potential solar power generation by about 13% over the 55 years.


(Reference information Sources:MIT Technology Review)

At present, looking at the world, China has more installed capacity of solar power than any other country. Earlier this year, a Chinese photovoltaic industry organization said that China added about 43 gigawatts (GW) of installed solar power capacity in 2018, down 18% from a year earlier. However, the China Photovoltaic Industry Association (CPIA) said that by the end of 2018, the installed capacity of China's new generation of photovoltaic power has exceeded 170 gigawatts.

But at the same time, China is also one of the countries with serious air pollution problems in the world.

In recent years, the Chinese government has begun to deal with the problem of air pollution and achieved corresponding results. In September 2013, the State Council promulgated the Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Air Pollution, proposing to improve national air quality in the next five years. By the end of 2017, China had achieved almost all the major objectives of the Action Plan.

Now, we know that this treatment of air pollution will also bring great economic benefits: because a clear sky can improve the power generation potential of solar panels.


Figure | Change curve of solar energy utilization in China from 1965 to 2015 (utilization ratio refers to the ratio of actual output power to maximum output power of solar panels) (Source: Bart Sweerts/Nature Energy)

According to the study, in 2016, 14 terawatt-hours (14 trillion watt/hour) of power generation may be lost, which is equivalent to the annual power generation in Tunisia. By 2030, the installed capacity of solar power in China is expected to increase more than three times compared with 2016, by which time the number is likely to jump to 74 terawatt-hours, equivalent to Bangladesh's current total power generation.

Without air pollution, the value of additional electricity in 2016 could reach $1.9 billion, while in 2030 it could reach $6.7 billion. "This is a considerable loss of electricity and billions of dollars in revenue. Even for countries like China, this figure is considerable. Sweets said.

As early as 2017, similar studies pointed out similar results. Researchers from Duke University in the United States and Gandhi Nagel University of Indian Polytechnic collaborated to analyze the effects of suspended particulates in the air and the dust deposited on solar panels on power generation efficiency. The results show that dust and man-made pollutants in the air will seriously damage the efficiency of solar power generation equipment. In some areas, the loss is more than 25%. China, India and the Arabian Peninsula, which have large installed capacity, suffer the most.

China supports the deployment of solar power generation equipment in urban residential buildings or other buildings in various regions, but solar panels in these cities have been severely hit by air pollution and other related problems. Moreover, the higher the population density, the more serious the problem of air pollution, so the power generation efficiency of the corresponding solar panels will be worse.

According to Sweetz's research, he found a "small reversal" in air pollution between 2010 and 2015, which indicates that the Chinese government has achieved initial results in tackling environmental problems. But he warned: "It's far from the atmospheric conditions at the beginning of the study." The treatment of air pollution is not only related to people's livelihood, but also affects economic development. It needs long-term attention and attention.