Unveiling the Impact of Soiling Loss on PV Power Generation: Challenges and Solutions

Publish date:2023.12.24


The power generation of PV plants is influenced by various external factors, soiling loss, caused by sandstorms, air pollution, and others is among the primary reasons. How much does soiling loss really affect things? This article is going to tell you all.

Does soiling loss only cause a reduction in power generation?

Certainly not. Soiling loss brings several safety risks:

  • Hindered heat dissipation: Dust accumulation increases thermal resistance, with a temperature rise of 1°C potentially reducing module output power by 0.5%.
  • Hot spot effects: Localized shading causes overheating, directly risking module damage.
  • Chemical corrosion: Dust may be corrosive in certain areas, potentially affecting surface integrity and Usage duration.


Do soiling loss impact solar power plants worldwide?

Soiling loss is a widespread challenge to global PV plants. The impact varies from place to place.
However, the real problem is that regions with high PV potential are more likely to suffer from the soiling loss problem.


As Figure 1 depicting global PV potential, regions like North Africa, the Middle East, Western China boast the world's best solar radiation intensity and sunlight duration. These places are more suitable for PV development.

Figure 2 showcasing the global distribution of dust sensitivity, illustrates the severity of dust storms in different regions.  These two figures indicate that regions ideal for large-scale PV plants are more prone to soiling loss, requiring more frequent cleaning. 


How much does soiling reduce power generation?

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), in 2018, soiling caused 3% ~ 4% loss in annual PV power generation, equating to €3 billion ~ €5 billion in economic losses. By 2023, these losses may rise to 4% ~ 5%, reaching around €4 billion ~ €7 billion.


On one hand, more PV plants and longer operational times lead to increased economic losses from soiling.

On the other hand, as global electricity prices drop, the annual cost of manually cleaning is increasing. Cleaning 1MW modules in India could hit €1000, discouraging frequent cleaning.


A more reliable, more economical, and less worry solution

Soiling loss is not negligible. O&M of large-scale PV power plants isn’t easy, even worse, traditional manual cleaning is both difficult and costly. PV intelligent cleaning robots offer a better option.


Sunpure intelligent PV cleaning robot specifically designed for arid climates, operates fully automated and waterless, reducing O&M efforts, risk and water usage. Applied in 14 countries and regions, covering a capacity exceeding 11GW, it enhances power generation and lowers the LCOE for global clients.