Forecasting Desert Storms to Empower Solar Panels


Desert dust poses a significant problem to solar power plants, reducing their efficiency by obscuring the sun and dirtying mirrors. Aiming to empower solar panel productivity, the European MACC-II project offers 5-day forecasts of dust impact on solar radiation.

In Toulon, France, at CNIM’s solar power plant, surplus energy is stored in pressurized water tanks, ready to be used during dust storms. Meanwhile, researchers at Transvalor in Sophia Antipolis, France, monitor desert dust movements using satellite data and mathematical models to predict its trajectory. Advanced weather models now forecast desert sand movement up to five days in advance. This forecasting enables better management of solar power plants, aiding in decision-making for operations and future plant placements. As solar energy gains prominence globally, understanding and forecasting desert storms become vital for maximizing solar power plant efficiency and ensuring sustainable renewable energy generation.

The MACC-II project was completed in 2015.


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