Solar panels are a worthy investment which will decrease both your energy bills and your carbon footprint. But have you ever wondered just how effective they will be in the Northern Irish weather? The average temperatures in Northern Ireland wouldn’t appear to be the perfect match for solar technology, however as this article will explore, we may just have around optimal conditions for this renewable energy generation. This is because hotter weather doesn’t mean greater electricity production.
Solar radiation in Northern Ireland is about the same as it is in France or Spain, so solar panels are just as effective. Across the UK and Ireland solar radiation is about 60% of the solar radiation found at the equator so your investment is sure to generate healthy returns. However solar panels, just like another piece of electronic equipment, can get too hot and will produce less electricity when conditions aren’t right. Maximum efficiency of solar panels is around 15 °C and 35 °C during which solar cells will produce at maximum efficiency.
Maximum efficiency of solar panels is around 15 °C and 35 °C
Solar panels are made from silicon photovoltaic (PV) cells and the electricity produced is affected by the surrounding temperature, which in very hot conditions can reduce the benefits. Solar panels can get as hot as 65 °C at which point solar cell efficiency and overall output will be significantly reduced. The laws of thermodynamics tell us that with increased heat comes decreased power output, and this applies to solar panels. Therefore, warmer temperatures will always mean less output for solar panels, and this loss is quantified in a “temperature coefficient” by panel manufacturers, which varies from model to model.
So, depending on the climatic conditions your solar output will vary accordingly. The very best conditions for solar panels depend on several factors such as air temperature, how close you are to the equator, level of direct sunlight, and roof material. Whilst hot temperatures may not have the maximising effect on solar output that we may have previously assumed, summer, with its longer sunshine hours, is still a valuable time for producing solar energy – even in Northern Ireland!!