Published on October 23rd, 2011 | by Nicholas Brown5
Coldest Parts of Earth Have the Best Solar (PV) Potential, Study Finds
According to a new study, some of the coldest geographic locations on earth have the best solar power generation potential if using photovoltaic panels.
Some of the regions include the southern Andes and the Himalayas.
The two main reasons why some of the coldest regions on earth have the best solar power generation potential are:
- They are at high altitudes, which are exposed to more sunlight.
- Some types of solar cells (the electricity-generating part of solar panels) generate electricity more efficiently at cold temperatures. Traditional silicon wafer solar cells are affected by heat more than others and, like all solar panels, are exposed to reasonably high temperatures all day long.
I should also add that, according to a study, heat from solar radiation (sunlight) is what degrades solar cells as well as the transparent panels that they are protected behind, and more so than any other environmental factor by far. Heat is almost the exclusive destroyer of solar cells. Because solar cells do not exhibit any measurable degradation without much heat, it is reasonable to assume that they will last longer in colder climates.
It is important, however, to keep in mind that some climates have harsher weather that results in increased hail and strong winds that could damage solar panels with flying debris.
According to the study, covering 4% of the Himalaya’s high potential region with solar panels, which is approximately 12,000 square kilometers (7,460 square miles) could generate all of China’s electricity. China consumes the most energy worldwide. It consumed 4,190 Terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity in 2010. The United States consumed 3,741 TWh that year.
While large-scale solar setups are expensive to install in the cold areas mentioned above, the results of the study could be an incentive for people to set up small scale solar power plants for rural residents.
Photo Credit: Friar’s Balsam