April 15, 2024

Why Bird-Proofing Your Solar Panels Matters and Effective Strategies to Achieve It

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INDEX:

Why bird-proof solar panels?
The impact of bird’s behavior on solar panels

Quantifying the impact of bird droppings on solar panels
Mitigation strategies
Solar Panel’s bird-proofing with lasers

For optimal performance and longevity of your solar panels, effective bird-proofing is crucial. Extensive research has highlighted the significant impact of birds, particularly their droppings, on solar panel efficiency.

The accumulation of bird droppings obstructs sunlight from reaching photovoltaic cells, resulting in reduced electricity generation. This obstruction not only decreases efficiency but also lowers the overall output of the solar panel system.

Additionally, bird droppings are known for their corrosive properties, which pose a threat to building surfaces over time.

If you’re concerned about the potential consequences of bird presence around your solar array, explore this issue further with us. We’ve condensed key research findings to simplify understanding and help you take proactive steps.

Why Bird-Proof Solar Panels: The Influence of Environmental Factors on Photovoltaic Panel Efficiency

In the face of the urgent need for power production, photovoltaic (PV) systems emerge as promising solutions for both domestic and commercial purposes. However, their efficiency is susceptible to various environmental factors such as wind, radiation, shadows, dust, and soil accumulation. 

Notably, bird droppings stand out as a significant detriment to PV panel performance due to their adhesive nature facilitated by moisture content, as revealed by experimental analysis1.

Bird Dropping’ Characteristic:

Considering the impact of bird droppings on the well-being of solar panels necessitates an understanding of the components comprising bird guano.

This comprehensive approach acknowledges that the composition of bird droppings, including the acidic nature and adhesive properties of its constituents, plays a crucial role in evaluating their potential effects on solar panel performance and longevity.

There are two primary characteristics that make bird droppings particularly hazardous to solar panels:

1: Stickiness

Bird droppings owe their adhesive quality primarily to the abundance of uric acid, a metabolic byproduct from bird protein digestion. This uric acid acts as a natural glue, enabling droppings to firmly adhere to surfaces upon contact. 

In order to identify the impact of different environmental elements on solar panels, a team of researchers examined seven different samples, including black soil, desert soil, red soil, alluvial soil, laterite soil, coal dust, and bird droppings. 

These samples were dispersed across the surface of PV panels at varying weights ranging from 10 to 50 grams. The study identified bird droppings as the most influential factor affecting PV panel efficiency due to their propensity to adhere to the panel surface, which is attributed to their moisture content.

Moreover, when bird droppings land on the glass surface of a PV module, they tend to spread out, forming clusters due to overlapping areas. In some instances, these droppings can span up to 5 to 6 inches across the surface.

2: Corrosiveness

Bird droppings are corrosive primarily due to their acidic nature, which is a result of the high concentration of uric acid they contain.

Over the long term, the corrosive nature of bird droppings can inflict significant damage on surfaces such as solar panels, metal structures, painted surfaces, and certain types of stone. Initially, the acidic components within the droppings react with the materials upon contact, initiating corrosion processes. This corrosion gradually eats away at the surface, compromising its integrity and structural strength.

For solar panels specifically, prolonged exposure to bird droppings can lead to several detrimental effects. The acidic nature of the droppings can corrode the protective coatings on the panel’s surface, such as anti-reflective coatings or protective films. This corrosion can cause degradation of the panel’s materials, leading to reduced efficiency and performance over time.

The impact of bird’s behavior on solar panels

Bird behavior significantly contributes to the contamination of PV modules with bird droppings2. Birds’ inclination to perch or walk on surfaces is a key factor in the accumulation of droppings on modules, particularly at specific tilt angles. They often prefer secluded areas, such as the horizontal tops of structures or elevated points like electrical lines, tree branches, solar panels, towers, and dish antennas (Isaksson, 2008).

This behavior can partially or completely obstruct sunlight in certain areas of the PV system. The buildup of droppings reflects the birds’ movements on the flat glass surface of the PV module.

Bird activity may escalate during migration periods, such as in the fall, and nesting seasons. Hence, it’s prudent to monitor these times and be mindful of the bird species present in the vicinity.

Quantifying the impact of bird droppings on solar panels

Short-term impact: 

Researchers analyzed the effects of soil deposition and bird droppings on the thermal performance of photovoltaic panels, quantifying how bird droppings affect factors like power generation, efficiency, and efficiency loss.

The study highlighted a significant adverse impact of bird droppings on solar panel performance, attributed to their high initial moisture content and strong adhesion to the panel surface. The study concluded that as soil and dust content increased, panel efficiency decreased, with bird droppings causing the most notable decline. 

In contrast, coal dust exhibited minimal impact, largely due to its tendency to be dispersed by the wind rather than forming a thick coating on the panels.

Overall, these findings underscore the formidable challenge posed by bird droppings to solar panel performance, particularly in hot-dry regions with limited rainfall for natural cleaning3.

Furthermore, corroborative research indicates that bird droppings can reduce the output power of solar PV cells by up to 23.8%4.

Long-term impact:

Over time, bird droppings can have detrimental long-term effects on solar panels. Their acidic nature gradually corrodes protective coatings, such as anti-reflective coatings, leading to decreased efficiency.  

Accumulated droppings obstruct sunlight, reducing the panel’s ability to generate electricity. If not promptly removed, hardened droppings can require abrasive cleaning methods, damaging the panel’s surface and shortening its lifespan. These factors contribute to diminished performance, increased maintenance costs, and the potential structural degradation of solar panels over the long term.

Mitigation strategies:

Mitigating bird droppings on solar panels involves several strategies. Installing deterrents such as spikes or nets around panels can discourage birds from perching. Regular cleaning of panels to remove droppings is essential. Utilizing repellents or sound-emitting devices may also deter birds. 

Additionally, strategic landscaping or placing decoys can divert birds away from panels. Implementing these measures proactively helps maintain panel efficiency and prolongs their lifespan, reducing the need for extensive cleaning and maintenance.

However, many traditional bird control methods are proven to be ineffective over time as birds get accustomed to them. Furthermore, excessive cleaning of solar panels can potentially damage them if not done properly. Abrasive cleaning methods or harsh chemicals can scratch or degrade the protective coatings on the panel surface, reducing their efficiency over time. Additionally, frequent cleaning may increase the risk of water ingress into sensitive electrical components, leading to malfunctions or short circuits.

An effective bird-proofing solution for solar panels is offered by the laser bird deterrent system AVIX Autonomic. 

Solar Panel’s bird-proofing with lasers

The AVIX Autonomic Laser bird deterrent offers an innovative solution to bird-proof solar panels, reducing the need for frequent cleaning and associated costs. This system emits a laser beam that is harmless to birds but effectively deters them from landing or perching on the panels. By creating an aversive stimulus, the laser discourages birds from approaching the solar panel area, thereby minimizing the accumulation of bird droppings.

One of the key advantages of this technology is its effectiveness over time. Unlike traditional deterrent methods that may lose effectiveness as birds become habituated to them, laser systems maintain their efficacy. This is because the laser beam creates a dynamic and unpredictable deterrent pattern, preventing birds from adapting to it and continuing to perceive it as a threat. 

As a result, laser bird deterrents provide long-lasting protection for solar panels, reducing the need for frequent cleaning and ensuring consistent performance over time.

Across the globe, numerous solar farms are adopting Bird Control Group’s innovative technology. Take, for instance, the Sonnedix facility, which has embraced this cutting-edge solution. It has proven highly effective, reducing bird presence on solar array rooftops by an impressive 85%, while simultaneously increasing daily plant performance by 8%.

Similarly, Catena’s facility in Sweden has harnessed the power of AVIX Autonomic, leading to an astounding 85% reduction in cleaning costs.

  1.  Shaik, S., Vigneshwaran, P., Roy, A., Kontoleon, K. J., Mazzeo, D., Cuce, E., Saleel, C. A., Alwetaishi, M., Khan, S. A., Gürel, A. E., & Ağbulut, Ü. (2023). “Experimental analysis on the impacts of soil deposition and bird droppings on the thermal performance of photovoltaic panels.” Case Studies in Thermal Engineering, 48, 103128.
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  2. Sisodia, A. K., & Mathur, R. K. (2019). “Impact of bird dropping deposition on solar photovoltaic module performance: a systematic study in Western Rajasthan.” Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 26(012050). DOI: 10.1007/s11356-019-06100-2. ↩︎
  3. 3 Shaik, S., Vigneshwaran, P., Roy, A., Kontoleon, K. J., Mazzeo, D., Cuce, E., Saleel, C. A., Alwetaishi, M., Khan, S. A., Gürel, A. E., & Ağbulut, Ü. (2023). “Experimental analysis on the impacts of soil deposition and bird droppings on the thermal performance of photovoltaic panels.” Case Studies in Thermal Engineering, 48, 103128.
    ↩︎
  4.  Sisodia, A. K., & Mathur, R. K. (2019). “Impact of bird dropping deposition on solar photovoltaic module performance: a systematic study in Western Rajasthan.” Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 26(012050). DOI: 10.1007/s11356-019-06100-2.
    ↩︎

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Bird Control Group’s automated laser bird repellent provides 24/7 protection from wild birds by shining a green laser light in the area affected by the problem. Get in touch via the form below if you are interested in learning more.

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