Solar PV

2020
Li, Xiaoyuan, Denise L. Mauzerall+, and Mike H. Bergin. “Global reduction of solar power generation efficiency due to aerosols and panel soiling.” Nature-Sustainability (2020).Abstract
Air pollution and dust prevail over many regions that have rapid growth of solar photovoltaic (PV) electricity generation, potentially reducing PV generation. Here we combine solar PV performance modelling with long-term satellite-observation-constrained surface irradiance, aerosol deposition and precipitation rates to provide a global picture of the impact of particulate matter (PM) on PV generation. We consider attenuation caused by both atmospheric PM and PM deposition on panels (soiling) in calculating the overall effect of PM on PV generation, and include precipitation removal of soiling and the benefits of panel cleaning. Our results reveal that, with no cleaning and precipitation-only removal, PV generation in heavily polluted and desert regions is reduced by more than 50% by PM, with soiling accounting for more than two-thirds of the total reduction. Our findings highlight the benefit of cleaning panels in heavily polluted regions with low precipitation and the potential to increase PV generation through air-quality improvements.
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2018
Yang^, Junnan, Xiaoyuan Li^, Wei Peng^, Fabian Wagner, and Denise L. Mauzerall+. “Climate, air quality and human health benefits of various solar photovoltaic deployment scenarios in China in 2030.” Environmental Research Letters 13, no. 6 (2018).Abstract
Solar photovoltaic (PV) electricity generation can greatly reduce both air pollutant and greenhouse gas emissions compared to fossil fuel electricity generation. The Chinese government plans to greatly scale up solar PV installation between now and 2030. However, different PV development pathways will influence the range of air quality and climate benefits. Benefits depend on how much electricity generated from PV is integrated into power grids and the type of power plant displaced. Using a coal-intensive power sector projection as the base case, we estimate the climate, air quality, and related human health benefits of various 2030 PV deployment scenarios. We use the 2030 government goal of 400 GW installed capacity but vary the location of PV installation and the extent of inter-provincial PV electricity transmission. We find that deploying distributed PV in the east with inter-provincial transmission maximizes potential CO2 reductions and air quality-related health benefits (4.2% and 1.2% decrease in national total CO2 emissions and air pollution-related premature deaths compared to the base case, respectively). Deployment in the east with inter-provincial transmission results in the largest benefits because it maximizes displacement of the dirtiest coal-fired power plants and minimizes PV curtailment, which is more likely to occur without inter-provincial transmission. We further find that the maximum co-benefits achieved with deploying PV in the east and enabling inter-provincial transmission are robust under various maximum PV penetration levels in both provincial and regional grids. We find large potential benefits of policies that encourage distributed PV deployment and facilitate inter-provincial PV electricity transmission in China.
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2017
Li, Xiaoyuan, Fabian Wagner, Wei Peng, Junnan Yang, and Denise L. Mauzerall+. “Reduction of solar photovoltaic resources due to air pollution in China.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2017).Abstract
Solar photovoltaic (PV) electricity generation is expanding rapidly in China, with total capacity projected to be 400 GW by 2030. However, severe aerosol pollution over China reduces solar radiation reaching the surface. We estimate the aerosol impact on solar PV electricity generation at the provincial and regional grid levels in China. Our approach is to examine the 12-year (2003–2014) average reduction in point-of-array irradiance (POAI) caused by aerosols in the atmosphere. We apply satellite-derived surface irradiance data from the NASA Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) with a PV performance model (PVLIB-Python) to calculate the impact of aerosols and clouds on POAI. Our findings reveal that aerosols over northern and eastern China, the most polluted regions, reduce annual average POAI by up to 1.5 kWh/m2 per day relative to pollution-free conditions, a decrease of up to 35%. Annual average reductions of POAI over both northern and eastern China are about 20–25%. We also evaluate the seasonal variability of the impact and find that aerosols in this region are as important as clouds in winter. Furthermore, we find that aerosols decrease electricity output of tracking PV systems more than those with fixed arrays: over eastern China, POAI is reduced by 21% for fixed systems at optimal angle and 34% for two-axis tracking systems. We conclude that PV system performance in northern and eastern China will benefit from improvements in air quality and will facilitate that improvement by providing emission-free electricity.
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