The effect of settling harmattan dust on photovoltaic modules in Walewale, Northern Ghana

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May, 2016
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Solar module performance is of high concern for dusty regions with less rainfall especially during the harmattan season in Ghana. The suspended harmattan dust scatters sunshine radiation before reaching the panel and upon settling on the panel surface, the dust particles block (partially) the solar cells from receiving the solar radiation, thus reducing the maximum capture efficiency of the photovoltaic module and its electrical energy output. This work seeks to address the effect of settling dust on sun radiation reaching the panel surface. The PV module for this research is a 50W mono-crystalline silicon. Experimental data of modules voltage, atmospheric dust concentration, irradiation and wind velocity were recorded for 4 months (November, 2014 – February, 2015) at project site, Walewale – northern Ghana and analyzed. Settling dust affected the module performance by reducing its power output by 28.7% and panel efficiency reduction by 5.6%. A model for dust deposition and how it affects PV power output was also developed to better predict the power output and energy yields and to optimize the PV module, by ensuring cleaning schedules.
A thesis submitted to The School of Graduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana, in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the award of the degree of Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering,
harmattan dust, power output, settling dust, PV module, panel efficiency