In its latest study, NITE attributes rising reports of snow-related damages in residential PV systems to heavy storms in the country's Tohoku and Hokkaido regions in recent years.
“The damage caused to PV systems by snowfall over the four years is equivalent to the power output of residential solar panels for approximately 75,000 households,” NITE said, noting that the combined capacity of the affected systems is approximately 30 MW.
NITE recorded 43 cases of snow and ice-related accidents in residential PV systems between 2018 and 2021. It said that the accidents often involved damage to the module frames. NITE noted that in some cases, the systems were deployed at a tilt angle of less than 0.6 degrees, which makes it more difficult for snow to slide off the panels.
The institute urges PV system owners to conduct regular site inspections, use surveillance cameras, and implement snow removal at early stages. They also suggest the creation of snow removal plans.
“Creating a budget for snow removal may be a good move before project planning,” said NITE, which was presented much of its data in an open-access database.
In 2021, scientists at the University of Alberta in Canada presented a new set of parameters to improve short-term models to forecast the impact of snow on PV installations. The parameters include the warming effect of irradiance on the backs of panels, thermal capacity, and irradiance through snow.
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