Testing the durability of anti-soiling coatings for solar cover glass by outdoor exposure in Denmark

The presence of soiling on photovoltaic modules reduces light transmission through the front cover glass to the active absorber, thereby reducing efficiency and performance. Current soiling mitigation techniques are expensive and/or ineffective. However, anti-soiling coatings applied to the solar cover glass have the potential to reduce soiling for long periods of time without continuous maintenance. This paper reports the performance of two transparent hydrophobic coatings (A and B) exposed to the outdoor environment of coastal Denmark for 24 weeks. A comparison was made between the performance of coated and uncoated glass coupons, periodically cleaned coupons, and accelerated laboratory tests. Although initial results were promising, water contact angle and transmittance values were found to decline continuously for all coated and uncoated coupons. Surface blisters, film thickness reduction, changes in surface chemistry (fluorine loss), and abrasion damage following cleaning were observed. Coupons cleaned every 4 weeks showed a restoration in transmittance. Cycles of light rainfall and evaporation combined with a humid and salty environment led to cementation occurring on all coupons. The development of an abrasion-resistant, super-hydrophobic coating with a low roll-off angle and high water contact angle is more likely to provide an anti-soiling solution by reducing the build-up of cementation.