Boosting Solar Panels on Cloudy Days by Jakob Jelling

Can you boost solar panels on cloudy days? Yes, you can. Before we describe how to boost them, let's see how well the PV panels work when it's cloudy.

Clouds lower solar energy production: a light overcast could halve it, while thick blackish clouds could quarter it. Yet, even the thickest clouds and rain cannot stop the panels from producing electricity as there would still be enough diffuse sunlight in the atmosphere for the panels to work.

In cloudy weather, grid-tied systems would keep feeding solar electricity into the grid, while off-grid systems would keep sending electricity to batteries for your future use. If you live in a cloudy area, you could opt for grid-tied systems to supply you with electric in case of solar-generated power shortfalls. To combat the lowered electricity production, you could increase the number of panels or boost them.

How Can You Boost Solar Panels?

You can boost your panels to make them work better. How? Do you remember the old-time sun reflectors that people used for sun tanning? The efficiency of solar panels on cloudy days can also be boosted by simple reflectors - mirrors. Mirrors are commonly used in passive photovoltaic, such as solar heaters. Why can't active systems also use mirrors? They can, and some home systems are already employing reflectors.

Solar enthusiasts are reporting huge successes achieved by installing two side mirrors on their panels. The mirrors reflect light onto the panels, and are especially great at reflecting the diffuse light that is present in cloudy conditions. You can purchase cheap cracked mirrors at some second-hand stores. Two mirrors could become equivalent to a few hundred dollars in panels.

Cloudy Countries and Solar Power

Some cloudy countries are producing more solar-generated electricity than some sunnier countries. For instance, Germany is a gloomy-skied country, but about 50% of the world's PV energy is produced in cloudy Germany. Spain and Portugal, on the other hand, have twice more sunny days than Germany, but they cannot boast of large amounts of PV-generated electricity. German laws require regular utility companies to purchase solar-generated electricity with a mark-up. Thus, solar power plants have a great incentive to create clean power and feed it into the grids of the utility companies at a profit. New German laws have significantly boosted all renewable energy sources in this country, including solar and wind renewable energy sources.

Germany has some truly monstrous solar plants (it has some of the biggest photovoltaic plants in the world). For instance, the largest one can generate 40 megawatts, which is enough to power around 10,000 homes. Thus, solar power can be successfully generated also in cloudy conditions. As you can see, it is not just about the amount of sunny days, it's also about the size of the panels, and whether you boost them or not.

Free and totally environmentally friendly solar energy can save a lot of money to both, governments and individual consumers. Governments need to finally embrace solar technologies and help to make them more affordable for consumers.