What to do with snow on your photovoltaic power plant?

Čistenie solárnych panelov

With the boom of photovoltaic power plants in recent years, there is a question their owners might ask: what will happen in winter and how the climatic conditions will affect the operation and maintenance of their power plant.

The most common impact on the operation and performance of a photovoltaic power plant in this season is a reduction of its daily production due to shorter days and less sunlight.

The most common impact on the operation and performance of a photovoltaic power plant in this season is a reduction of its daily production due to shorter days and less sunlight. The climatic factor at the installation site should be taken into account in the initial design of the PV plant and should be included in the economic balance of its operation.

Another important factor that affects the operation and which must be included in the design of the PV plant is the snowfall because it can significantly reduce or stop the performance of photovoltaic modules. Every PV plant operator must be prepared for the following two basic types of snow problems:0

  • When the panels are covered with snow, the production will be completely stopped in most cases.
  • The installation of photovoltaic panels will reduce the overall roof´s load bearing capacity.

Especially in the second case, it is appropriate to check the map of snow areas included in the ČSN EN 1991-1-3 Regulation, which determines the standard load of the building with snow. This fact should also be included in the project preparation of the construction the PV plant is located on.

When the roof pitch exceeds 25 degrees, the snow slides off the roof automatically. If the roof pitch is lower, the possible snow load should be mentioned in the design of the static solution before the actual implementation. From the static point of view, the area load at the installation site is calculated for the load of solar modules 0.15kN / m2, which is equal to 15kg / m2 of the non-assembly structure, which differs according to the manufacturer / type.

This load corresponds to approximately 10 - 15% of the dimensioned limit of the building in the 3rd snow area. With properly dimensioned buildings in good condition, it is highly unlikely that such a small load bearing limit could endanger the roof structure. For older buildings or buildings in poorer condition, we always recommend consulting the condition of the roof with the construction company or having a static assessment prepared.

If you are considering removing the snow from the modules, you must be very careful not to damage them or their construction mounting system. We recommend using special equipment or hiring a specialized company. However, if the snow does not endanger the roof construction and there is no risk of snow falling (eg. on the sidewalk near the building), it is better to let the snow melt naturally.

nanosun s.r.o.