While solar power is a clean form of energy, pollution from unclean sources has a drastic impact on this renewable energy source. Data collected in Singapore, Delhi, India, and China have confirmed that the pollution levels in these areas have significant reductions in solar panel output. The air pollution in these countries is caused by emissions from industries and motor vehicles that creates a cloud-like haze. Coal emissions, especially in China, are also affecting the air quality.

Current MIT research scientist, Ian Marius Peters, found that in some cases, the amount of air pollution in Singapore, Dehli, and India made the difference between a successful solar power installation and one that failed to meet expected production levels. This means that some PV plants could potentially be operating at a loss.

In China, researcher Bart Sweerts at ETH Zürich found that over the record of solar generation from 1960 to 2015, this 55 year period has seen a 13% decline in average potential solar generation. However, as air pollution conditions vary by providence, some areas saw even greater drops of 20%-28%.

The decline in solar production in all four countries hurts the rate of return on their solar installations – as a business proposal, air pollution is holding solar back.

While no known data currently exists on the effects of pollution on solar generation in the United States, it could be reasonably inferred that areas that experience smog (like the above mentioned Eastern countries) could also be in danger of reduced PV generation.

Imaged sourced from: Pixabay