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Masdar, DOE Collaborating on Moisture, Dust-Resistant Solar Panels

The US Department of Energy (DOE) is beginning to test its cutting edge photovoltaic (PV) panels in Masdar City. Masdar represents Abu Dhabi’s multi-billion dollar investment in new technologies and research for sustainable development. It has a growing portfolio that includes oil recovery, waste treatment and nanoscale electronics.

Masdar’s current responsibility as a testing ground for improved photovoltaics is a continuation of efforts to strengthen the relationship between the United States and the United Arab Emirates. Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, Chief Executive Officer of the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, recently spoke on Masdar’s role:

Acting as a test-bed for the United States to evaluate new technologies affirms Masdar’s global leadership as a hub for collaboration in renewable energy and clean technology development. It is a testament to Masdar’s commitment to work in parallel with global partners to advance the adoption of clean energy worldwide and foster human and scientific development.

Solar energy is moving into the mainstream with a quickness. It’s annual growth rate is over 40%, according to solarnation, making it the fastest growing energy source in the world. Increasing the reliability and efficiency of PV technology is integral to solar industry growth and bodes well for the “advancement of clean energy worldwide.”

The U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory has been researching and developing a more effective solar PV coating that eliminates issues of moisture and dry dust adhesion, among other things. Silicone has been the casing of choice since the 1970s because of its easy adhesion, high optical transparency and flexibility, but its vulnerability to moisture has proven to be a great weakness [PV-Permeability]. Once exposed to water, oxygen and dust particles, components begin to degrade and the module starts to lose efficiency. Essentially panels start to break down soon after they are installed. Designing a more durable coating can help prevent this corrosion and will ensure higher energy output and a longer life.

Greater potential returns from solar panels in the future is good news for the value-seeking sun worshippers of the world and means that DIYers can spend less time spreading epoxy mixtures.

Look forward to more collaborative projects to be announced from the United States and the United Arab Emirates after the second Clean Energy Ministerial, which will be held in Abu Dhabi on April 6-7, 2011.

Article by Allison Leahy, appearing courtesy Earth & Industry.