Solar panels work well when there’s cold outside, but the efficiency naturally drops if they are covered by snow, even partially. The fact that the panels are tiled helps a bit, but eventually doesn’t always prevent snow buildup. Thus, the solar panel owners have to remove the snow by themselves, which is time-consuming. And that is what Karl Wagner and Danielle Rhodes intend to deal with.
Wagner, a data scientist and an inventor, suggests using a heating material with nanotechnology components in solar panels. This could remove snow from solar arrays within a few hours and prevent its further buildup.
With their “Solar For Snow” proposal, the Minnesota couple became a semi-finalist of the American-Made Solar Prize and received $50,000. Now, the project needs to be piloted, and the Solar For Snow team needs to study all the potential negative effects of their idea.
The target market for the nano add-on to the panels also remains questionable, since snow buildup doesn’t seem to be a problem for regions with moderate winters. However, the federal government still intends to study snow on arrays, as the solution could be a game-changer for regions with more severe winters, including the remote areas of Alaska.