A new study has found that some of the coldest locations on the planet have the best potential for solar power generation, with photovoltaic solar panels.
The southern Andes and the Himalayas are two of the top regions, due in part to high altitudes which expose them to more sunlight. Certain types of solar cells also generate electricity more effectively at cold temperatures.
Aside from these factors, heat from sunlight breaks down solar cells, as well as the transparent panels protecting them. Sunlight causes this breakdown more than any other environmental factor, which is why regions with cooler temperatures are ideal for solar power.
On the flip side, one potentially negative aspect in these regions in relation to wear-and-tear on solar panels is that harsher elements such as strong winds and hail that can damage solar panels. However, with the decreased risk of breaking down from too much heat, panels may be more likely to withstand these elements.
To put the findings into perspective, covering only 4 percent of the Himalayan region with solar panels would generate all of the electricity used in China, the highest energy consumer in the world. Having said that, 4% is quite a high number considering how difficult that feat would be in practice. Would you even want to cover 4% of the Himalayan region in solar panels?
Solar setups are expensive to install in these regions, but the results of the study could be a good incentive for locals to set up small-scale solar power installations.
Image CC licensed by Ajay Tallam: Solar cooker and hot water heater in the Himalayas.
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