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In the State of New York: Let’s Address Winter Solar Concerns!

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As NY Governor Andrew M. Cuomo pushes for energy independence at the municipality level, local smart communities are left asking a rather “obvious” question about both the short and long term prospects of these initiatives:

Is the Green New Deal even a viable plan, especially in the context of solar power, considering that we experience one of the harshest weathers in the country?

Common sense often leads consumers to believe that purchasing solar panels in cold, snowy climates is an unwise investment. With snow cover and low temperatures, how could PV technology even work?

To be honest, these concerns aren’t “entirely” misplaced. However, their orientation is certainly misguided.

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The matter of fact is solar panels don’t rely on the heat from the sun to produce electricity. Instead, they depend on the sun’s radiation to create and maintain a flow of electric current. As such, as long as the panels are receiving light from the sun, no matter how cold it is out there, they would keep producing the electricity.

Take the example of McMurdo Station…

The facility is located in Antarctica and runs most of its operation on solar power. If winter solar was that of a big problem, the station wouldn’t even have been running today given the fact that the climate of Antarctica is far colder than that of New York.

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Image Author: Gaelen Marsden

Another common misconception people have about PV technology is that its efficiency reduces in the cold. Again, these concerns are unfound. In fact, lab studies show that cold temperatures improve panel efficiency.

That said, the frigidness of the weather can affect the operations of the technology when the snow cover is too thick, sheltering the panels from the sunlight and reducing the output power.

However, optimized installation of solar panels and investing in automatic panel cleaning systems can help mitigate even these concerns—albeit to an extent—and ensure consumers continue to benefit from the investment even when the snow is at its worst.

In conclusion, the Green New Deal is definitely a dependable energy strategy, both in the short term as well as in the long term, and we must work together to make it happen.

If you’ve a local solar energy project in New York and need help with sustainable design solutions. Its planning and implementation, get in touch with us today; Larsen Engineers would be more than happy to assist you with your project.

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