NREL Study Challenges Our Solar Panel Cleaning Advice

A new study from America’s NREL might have us rethinking our stance on solar panel cleaning.

NREL’s Pollen Study – More Than Just a Speck of Dust

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) conducted a detailed study in southern USA. They measured the effects on five utility-scale solar plants in North Carolina. The solar panels had been in operation for over seven years when the analysis was conducted, with no manual cleaning undertaken during this period.

The result? A pollen party! During peak pollen season, energy output nosedived by up to 15% due to this pollen barricade blocking sunlight. On the same subject : array.

Rain, whether light or moderate, was practically useless against this pollen onslaught. Even heavy rains managed to wash away less than half of the pollen. According to the study, more aggressive cleaning methods were needed.

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Pollen Down Under: An Aussie Perspective

Now, let’s bring this home to Australia. See the article : array. We’ve got our own pollen powerhouses in our native and introduced trees and weeds . If Aussie pollen producers take a leaf out of the NREL study’s book, we might be in for a similar scenario.

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Ronald Brakels, Time for a Scrub?

SolarQuotes Blogger Ronald has long advocated that rain is enough to keep solar panels clean in Australia. On the same subject : Solar Alliance Power completes main undertaking at Bridgestone facility. But with the NREL study showing rain’s ineffectiveness against pollen, should Ronald be reaching for the soap and sponge? Maybe in some cases.

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Cleaning Solar Panels: A Regional Thing

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Australia’s diverse climates mean pollen’s impact on solar panels will vary. In dense vegetation areas, more proactive cleaning could prove beneficial. In other parts, Ronald’s advice will still stand firm.

Safety First

A word to the wise: If you’re thinking of climbing up to clean, remember safety is paramount. Consider professionals for the job, and if you’re a DIY enthusiast, take every safety precaution. Don’t die for an extra 15% energy yield.


The NREL study is a wake-up call, especially for areas prone to high airborne pollen. While it may not warrant a nationwide cleaning frenzy, it suggests that in some Australian regions, a little more than rain might be needed for optimal solar panel performance. And Ronald, it might be time to add a bit of nuance to your cleaning mantra!

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