The race to dust-repellent solar panels

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Most of the large-scale solar parks in the world are located in deserts. These landscapes provide ample vacant land and year-round sunlight for solar power production. Researchers have envisioned transforming the Sahara—the vastest desert region on earth—into a massive solar park that might have the potential of producing four times the world’s present energy demand. 

But, there’s a major problem—dust. Gradual dust accumulation on solar panels can reduce their efficiency by almost 30 percent within one month of operation. For some context, solar power losses of only three to four percent on a global scale could mean an economic loss of at least 3.3 to 5.5 billion dollars. As climate change intensifies dust storms, there may be a rapid loss of solar panels’ efficiency unless they are cleaned several times a month.

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