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HeatSpring PV Course Blog

Solar PV Snow Removal... Is it worth the investment?

From HeatSpring.com PV Boot Camp Discussion Board

Q:

Would it ever be worth it to remove snow from a large solar field in New England? Or would the price of the snow removal be more than the energy lost?

A:

Probably not in California with the new $15/hr minimum wage. Even with $5/hr labor it would be difficult.
There are 100 names for snow in some cultures and I am sure there is an instance somewhere in the world where cleaning a module before the snow froze and stuck for a month would make good sense, but with those 99 other types of snow I think it is going to be cost effective to wait for it to slip off.
The one reason people do clean the snow off is when they are living off-grid and it is worth it to then to have power for those 1 or 2 days when the snow is on the array.
If you are looking at the kWh payback for the labor to clean the PV, it is tough, because in the winter when it snows, often there is not optimal sunlight anyway.
I know of one case in NJ when they were getting over $0.70/kWh and were negotiating for cleaning off the snow and what they said it came down to was there would be broken PV from the cleaning and that would make it not worth it. Those modules were frameless First Solar modules, which break a lot easier than framed PV modules.
Here is another way to look at it. If you lose 1% (probably less) of your energy from snow, then just buy 1% more PV and hibernate.

Thanks,
Sean White


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