How Trees Affect Solar Panels?

How Trees Affect Solar Panels?

Introduction

Our beloved earth has provided us with various precious resources, and one among them is trees. Trees are a pivotal part of our nature; thanks to them, human beings can survive. They have been playing a crucial function to purify the air and reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in it for a very long time. Simultaneously, solar panels are as important as trees. Though they do not help us to breathe, they do allow us to live in light. 

There is a difference in the ways both trees and solar panels are created. Trees are nature-made, and solar panels are man-made. But both of them are precious gems for the environment. Individually, both help and contribute to the betterment of the environment, but what do you think would be the impact of both when brought together? Well, that's what this blog is all about. 

Most of the time, the combination of trees and solar panels negatively impacts the functioning of solar panels. But let's not stay narrow-visioned and understand that this combination can sometimes show positive impacts as well. 

Do trees affect solar panels favorably?

We discussed what kind of influences trees can have on solar panels earlier. Lastly, the positive impacts of trees on solar panels were mentioned, so why not bring it under the spotlight first? In this section of the blog, we will see and understand how trees influence the working and efficiency of solar panels favorably. Underneath are three of the positive impacts; check them out.

  • Cooling Affect

If trees surround solar panels and are partially shaded by them, don't worry; it's not always a problem. Sometimes, shading can help to regulate solar panels' temperature as well. During hot temperatures, when excessive heat directly falls on the panels, trees work as a cooling agent for them. They cool down the temperature of panels and prevent the loss of efficiency of the same. 

  • Decreased Energy Consumption

Trees are everywhere and provide shade to every household and buildings that fall under them. This shading can bring down the inner temperatures of these structures during heat waves. Due to normal room temperature, people tend to consume comparatively less energy. Hence reducing the burden of generating excessive electricity from solar panels and increasing its lifespan.  

  • Visual Appealing 

Trees are undoubtedly a beautiful part of nature. They add aesthetics to everything that stands beside them. Think about it: natural elements and technical elements together would look picturesque to many of us! This combination can be the reason for a sudden adrenaline rush to those who enjoy aesthetic visions and scenarios. It will help to increase the adoption of solar panels in many areas due to adding a pleasing look along with the trees.

Above were mentioned some of the common and noticeable significance that trees have on solar panels. But as we said earlier, there are some negative points as well. Read the further sections to know how trees affect solar panels adversely.

How do trees affect solar panels negatively?

Trees can be harmful to solar panels, and it's working at times. Majorly shading is the problem faced by solar panels when installed near trees. To avoid this problem, solar panels are placed or installed uniquely so that they can access more and more sunlight. Challenges other than shading are faced by solar panels as well. Let's go through some of them:

Dappled sunlight filters through trees, shading rows of solar panels below.
  • Overshadowing solar panels

Most people residing in areas with dense trees face this problem. Solar panels, when installed near trees, may get blocked due to their shading; how? Solar panels absorb and use the photovoltaic effect of sunlight and convert it into electricity. When trees overshade the panels, the cells inside them cannot absorb the photovoltaic effect of sunlight. Hence, the capacity of production gets reduced.     

  • Leaf Litter

Dry leaves, fallen leaves, dirt, branches, etc., can act as barriers to solar panels for producing electricity. They accumulated over the photovoltaic cells of the solar panels. Just as shading affects the efficiency of solar panels, the accumulation of debris might decrease production capacity. Winters can be a difficult time as well because snow can form a layer on solar panels as well. Hence, covering the photovoltaic cells and lowering their efficiency

  • Maintenance Challenges

Neither installing solar panels is easy nor maintaining them. As mentioned earlier, due to large amounts of debris falling on panels and covering them, high- maintenance is required. Because of these reasons, regular cleaning is required along with regular trimming of nearby trees. Installing solar panels near trees requires lots of time and labor. Also, special equipment and efforts are needed, which can make solar panels unaffordable for some. 

  • Physical Damage

Trees surrounding solar panels can be harmful during storms and high winds. Branches can fall and cause damage to it. Sometimes, even small trees or other flying objects during storms or highly windy days can be difficult for them as well.   

Upon reading these challenges, one might understand that the combination of trees and solar panels is not always beneficial for everybody. These were some of the obstacles that trees create for solar panels; there exist many more than these. But to notice, many people still prefer installing solar panels on their roofs or in their backyards. Ever thought about why? Go further to know more. 

What are the Potential Solutions to Mitigate Adverse Effects?

Under this section, you will come across many solutions that can mitigate commonly seen adverse effects. Adopting these solutions will not only reduce the effects of trees on solar panels but will also maintain the efficiency of the latter. The availability of solutions, along with the challenges, is the reason why people still prefer adopting solar energy. 

  • Advanced Technologies

Advancements in solar technologies are considering this problem faced by solar panels. Recent updates in this area have made it easier for people to use solar panels by avoiding these issues. Examples of it would be Solar Tracking Systems and Bifacial Solar Panels. Solar trackers track the sun during the whole day from east to west. Bifacial Solar Panels capture sunlight from both sides, thus solving the problem of shading. 

  • Strategic Placement

Strategically installing solar panels could be an extra help for many. People must decide which area of their property is not shaded by trees and will be a perfect spot for placing solar panels. Areas like the other side of the roof or backyard areas where trees won't block sunlight should be considered more. 

  • Tree Maintenance

Regular trimming, cutting, and swiping off the debris from trees is also beneficial for avoiding shading issues. If a particular tree causes shading, then cutting off the upper branches and reducing its height is a good idea. Carefully trimming the branches of trees that overshadow the solar panels is also required.  

  • Hybrid Solution

Relying only on solar energy may not be an effective option for people residing in woody areas. Therefore, they should consider hybridizing solar energy with other renewable energy solutions like hydropower and wind power, depending on their locations. It won't let shading affect power generation. 

  • Expert's Help

Other solutions are what users can do while using solar panels. It is what users can do before installing solar panels. Taking expert guidance would be a lot more accurate and helpful for the users. They use various software tools that neglect shading effects by considering factors like tree height, geographical locations, etc., before installing. This way, solar panels can be placed in their 'Perfect Spot'.

Conclusion

Wrapping up the discussion, we can say that trees do affect solar panels in both negative and positive ways. It depends on how the placement of solar panels and trees has been done in certain places. People tend to focus on negatives more than positives, but thanks to this tendency, solar panel developers have found certain solutions that neither affect solar panels nor trees. By collaborating on some of the potential solutions available, we can harmonize the functions of both. These solutions can help transform the challenges into opportunities to synchronize sustainable energy and environmental preservations for a brighter future.    

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