DSM develops sand-resistant coating for solar panels

Dutch specialty chemicals group DSM has developed a sand-resistant coating for solar panels which it hopes will be used in desert areas from Dubai to Morocco, the Financieele Dagblad reported on Wednesday.

DSM has a test facility in the Gobi desert in northwest China. Desert conditions are ideal for solar energy with plenty of sunlight but sand has been a deterrent as it destroys the mechanism.

However, recently DSM booked its first order for the new coating which prevents sand from adhering to the surface of the panel. China is its main market, but it regards the Middle East and North Africa as regions with great potential.

Solar energy now generates just 1% of the world energy supply, but this is expected to increase to 15% over the next 10 years, Rob van Leen, director of innovation at DSM is quoted as saying by the FD. The company not only produces the coatings for the panels, but also provides a fluorine-free backing sheet for the devices which means they can be recycled.

‘We are the biggest producer of solar panel coatings in the world, with a 20% market share. Our coatings are anti-reflectant which means the solar panels return 3% to 4% more than our competitors,’ Van Leen explained.

The competition bakes a glass layer over the panels in an oven to make them sand-resistant, so there is an obvious advantage to the coating which is sprayed on, he added.

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