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Snow Days for Solar Arrays

Team Nexamp | Mar 20, 2019

With arctic temperatures and the threat of winter storms in the Northeast, many of us have had snow on our minds. Although most of Southern New England hasn’t received much snow this season, extreme temperatures had nearly half of the country trembling from harsh winter temperatures. And while many of us escaped the cold by staying indoors, our solar panels were working hard to produce clean energy all winter long.

Obviously, winter in the northeast is not ideal for sunlight – but it’s not as bad as you might think. Believe it or not, cold temperatures can even improve the solar panels’ production, whereas higher temperatures can be hard on the electronic components.

Even more surprising, snow can actually help improve the panels production. Depending on the severity of the storm, most snow slides right off the tilted panels onto the ground. Similar to skiers and snowboarders getting sunburned on bluebird days, the snowy white surface reflects sunlight and slightly boosts output on PV systems.

Still, it’s rare that we go through the winter without a snowfall that lingers too long on our solar panels, which is why weather forecasting and monitoring during winter season remains a high priority at Nexamp.

Skip Provost, Vice President of Operations & Maintenance starts his mornings by checking the 10-day weather forecast to prepare his team on what may come. But it’s not just the 10-day forecast he’s looking into. When forecasting the potential threat a winter storm can bring, there are a few factors that Skip and his team need to consider.

While wind gusts typically blow light snow off the tilted panels, heavy snow, freezing temperatures, or potential subsequent storms can cause snow accumulation that blocks the sun’s rays and can lessen production. Additionally, low slope sites might not have a high enough tilt for the snow to naturally slide off. The heavy weight of the snow accumulation can cause damage to the system.

To avoid any of these issues and ensure our projects are operating at peak performance, we partner with local contractors who are armed with the right equipment to remove the snow.

At Nexamp, it’s our top priority to keep our assets operating at 100% at all times, and we remain confident that our sites will generate power to provide clean energy savings to our customers no matter what Mother Nature brings.

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