Screenshot 2023-10-23 094203

Advisor: Dr. Walid Dyab

Our Mission

Our mission is to design and develop an innovative auto cleaning system for solar panels that maximizes their efficiency and lifespan. By providing an automated and efficient cleaning solution, we aim to address the challenges associated with dust and dirt on solar panels, ensuring optimal energy production and reducing cleaning costs for solar power systems.

About Us

we are a team of senior electrical engineering students working on our final project. Our focus is on designing an auto cleaning system for solar panels. With a strong background in electrical engineering and a shared interest in renewable energy, we have come together to address the challenges associated with maintaining the efficiency of solar panels. Through our expertise in automation, control systems, and electrical design, we aim to develop an innovative solution that streamlines the cleaning process and improves energy production. Through our collaborative efforts, we aim to make a meaningful impact in the field of renewable energy and pave the way for a greener future.

Our Team

1. Introduction:

1.1 Background.

In an era where the need for clean and sustainable energy sources is more significant than ever. Furthermore, protecting the environment needs sustainable and clean energy sources that supply energy with pure material that does not harm the environment. In addition, the Solar panel was first invented cell was 1954 by Daryl Chapin, Calvin Fuller, and Gerald. According to Luke, “Some consider the true invention of solar panels to be tied to Daryl Chapin, Calvin Fuller, and Gerald Pearson’s creation of the silicon photovoltaic (PV) cell at Bell Labs in 1954. Many argue that this event marks the true invention of PV technology because it was the first instance of solar technology that could actually power an electric device for several hours of a day”[1]. After that, scientists continue developing the solar panel until now which is what we have these days. Figure 1 shows the flow of developing solar panels through the years. With this in mind, solar panels, also known as photovoltaic (PV) panels, are devices that take the sunlight and convert it to electricity by pure material used inside the panels.
Solar panels are a critical component of solar energy systems and have gained popularity in recent years as a renewable and sustainable energy source. Figure 2 shows that “solar energy produces less than 90% of the carbon dioxide we get from coal burning for electricity and around 50% less carbon dioxide emissions than natural gas.” [2]. So far, many countries have used solar panels to generate electricity for the whole country. As part of Saudi Arabia’s 2030 Vision, the Sakaka Solar Power Plant was established, utilizing 1.2 million solar panels to generate an impressive 300 MW of electricity [3]. As a result, Solar panels are the components that transit the future energy to cleaner and sustainable energy sources by harnessing the power of the sun, we can reduce pollution, combat climate change, and promote a healthier environment for future generations.

1.2 Overview.

Solar Panels are made of pure semiconductor which is commonly silicon that captures sunlight and converts it into electricity by two layers of silicon, one is negatively charged and the other one is positively charged, called PN-junction. In detail, when sunlight hits the solar cells that are made of silicon, it excites electrons, creating an electric direct current, As Figure 3 shows. In addition to this, solar panel efficiency relies on the amount of sunlight that can be converted into electricity. This means, higher efficiency means more electricity can be generated from the same amount of sunlight. Along with this, the efficiency of solar panels varies among different panel types which are the two common types of solar panels monocrystalline and polycrystalline.

 To compare, monocrystalline are made of single crystal structures, whereas polycrystalline panels contain multiple crystal structures. According to Fitria Hidayanti, “The Performance ratio of solar cells based on monocrystalline is higher than 3% when compared to polycrystalline-based solar cells”[5]. Also, Monocrystalline solar panels offer optimized efficiency for commercial applications and have a high lifetime value, making them a superior choice. Then, the use of monocrystalline panels can significantly enhance the overall efficiency of a solar panel system. Figure 4 shows the idea of the solar panel functionality.

1.3 Facts.

Solar panels have a long lifespan that can remain efficient from 20 to 25 years, which can continue producing electricity beyond that period in an ideal case. As a matter of fact, the Earth intercepts a lot of solar power which is more power than the planet’s population uses. According to NASA, “Averaged over an entire year, approximately 342 watts of solar energy fall upon every square meter of Earth. This is a tremendous amount of energy—44 quadrillions (4.4 * 1016) watts of power to be exact”[7]. Apart from this, solar panels rely on sunlight radiation that goes to the solar cells to be converted to electricity. So, Harnessing the abundant power generated by the sun and utilizing it to meet our energy needs, such as powering our homes with clean energy, is highly beneficial. It should be noted that if the solar panels are shaded or deprived of sunlight, the performance and electricity generation will be negatively affected. Obviously, there will be not enough electricity to supply the load. For instance, cloudy weather will prevent the solar panels from the total sunlight radiation which will cause an efficiency decrease. Besides, desert countries enjoy a consistent presence of sunlight, with their radiant energy continuously available throughout the day. However, there are many factors that can shade the solar panel from the sunlight to decrease the performance of the solar panel. The buildup of dirt, dust, debris, and environmental contaminants on the panels presents significant difficulties for solar panels to be as efficient as they should be. Likewise, desert regions face a persistent challenge of dust accumulation, which adversely impacts the efficiency of solar panels. The presence of dust on the panel surfaces hampers their performance and reduces their overall effectiveness. Figure 5 shows the efficiency of the solar panels and the effectiveness of the dust on the solar panels which obviously affected them. Given That, solar panels are helpful to the environment and efficient, it is difficult to keep their efficiency up all the time with respect to environmental factors that damage their performance.

2. Problem Definition:

2.1 Problem Statement.

Solar panels rely on sunlight radiation as their primary source of energy. However, environmental factors can create a layer of contaminants that diminishes the efficiency of the solar panel.

2.2 Factors.

The buildup of dirt, dust, debris, and environmental contaminants on the panels presents significant difficulties for solar panels to be as efficient as possible. These factors have an effect on solar panels’ performance because they prevent the sunlight from hitting the cells of solar panels. For instance, the bird muck prevents the sunlight and causes radiation loss from the solar panels which causes a decrease in the efficiency. According to Mathur, “bird droppings strongly affect the performance of solar PV cells; they could reduce the output power by maximum up to ≈23.8% (at 0° tilt angle/horizontal)”[12]. Unlike, dust has a higher effect on solar panels’ Performance because dust causes a higher radiation loss due to its prevention. Conforming to “Due to the presence of dust and dirt, part of the sunlight may have been blocked and unable to be received by the PV panels. That results in a big loss of solar cell power generation. A typical annual dust reduction factor is 93%. For 100W photovoltaic modules, the typical operating power is only 93W because of the accumulation of dust”[13]. Figures 7 and 8 show other factors that affect the solar panels’ efficiency.

2.3 Study.

2.4 Criteria

3. Our Solution:

The decrease in the solar panel’s efficiency depends on the accumulation of dust, dirt, debris, and any other environmental contaminants. As a result, the water cleaning system recovers the panel’s efficiency.

The design of an automated cleaning system for solar panels involves the integration of two systems together such as a wiper motor and a water pump. This system aims to remove dust, dirt, debris, and any other environmental contaminants from the surface of the solar panels, which will give out optimal energy generation and extend the lifespan of the solar panels. This detailed design outlines the key aspects of the integration of the wiper motor, water pump, and smart meter.

Wiper Motor

The wiper motor serves as the primary mechanism for cleaning the solar panels. Its responsibility is to move the cleaning apparatus, such as the wiper which will have a sheet of a microfibre cloth that will ensure that the solar panels become clean, without defects or scratches, when the cleaning process is over. From our research, a PMDC (Permanent Magnetic DC) motor was used as it utilizes electromagnetic theory to form rotational movements and this type of motor is used in most wipers. The motor’s power rating was found to be 60W. The simulation of the wiper model was discussed above in section 2.6.5. The simulation demonstrated an inverse relationship between the speed and torque. Some critical considerations for the wiper motor are:

  1. Power: The motor should have enough power to move the wiper smoothly through the solar panels without causing damage and also have a low power consumption at the same time which will ensure higher efficiency for energy generation. The power, speed, and torque should align with the cleaning requirements of the system. 
  2. Durability: The motor should withstand outdoor weather conditions as it will be exposed to sunlight, winds, etc. In other words, the motor should be constructed using high-quality materials that will prolong the lifespan of the system and reduce maintenance costs in the long run.

Water Pump

The water pump is a crucial component of the automated cleaning system as it will give out a pressurized stream of water to effectively remove the natural contaminants from the solar panels. A capacitor-start motor was used in the simulation as it represents the concept of a practical water pump. The power rating of the motor is 70W which is good for low power consumption scenarios. The operation of the water cleaning system is as follows: the water pump will be turned on for a short period of time, followed by an activation from the wiper motor after the water pump is turned off, resulting in low power consumption of the system. Key factors for the water pump design include:

  1. Pressure: The water pump should deliver appropriate pressure to effectively clean the solar panel. Panel size should be taken into consideration as it’s an important factor in the design of the system. 
  2. Power and Efficiency:  The water pump should be designed to have an optimal power consumption that will result in optimal efficiency for power generation while achieving desired cleaning performance. The design of the water pump should also focus on minimizing the waste of water by including precise fluid flow on the panels.

Block Diagram


4. Conclusion:

In conclusion, this report has addressed the issue of the accumulation of natural contaminants on solar panels and its impact on efficiency and power output. The importance of the automated cleaning system has been highlighted in the report. This report mainly focuses on the design and simulation of an automated cleaning system for solar panels that includes a wiper motor and a water pump. There were three considerable methods for cleaning the panels, such as water cleaning, air pressure, and electrostatic cleaning. Comparisons were made between these three methods which then highlighted the water cleaning method as being the most effective, which includes a wiper motor and a water pump, with several advantages compared to the other methods. Analyzing the three methods, the water cleaning system offered several benefits that included low power consumption, low manufacturing cost, and most importantly solving the efficiency problem. To end things off, this report gives an understanding of the impact of the dust build-up on the panels. Furthermore, by implementing this automated cleaning system, solar panel owners can make sure that increased power generation and reduced maintenance costs can be achieved.