According to a Massachusetts solar owner and operator, the one environmental factor that is capable of putting a real damper on the state's popular solar renewable energy credit market is snow.
‘The belief in the industry in Massachusetts was that the snow would simply slide off the modules,’ says Dean Iandoli, who owns and operates 4 MW of solar in Barre, Mass. ‘Last winter, I watched first-hand at our own facilities, and that was definitely not the case.’Â
During the winter of 2012-2013, Iandoli says he watched in frustration as the sun rose above his fields while a thick layer of snow covered his panels – reducing daily output to zero kWh. Realizing that manually removing the snow with a few employees and snow brushes would not be cost effective and could damage the face of the modules, he created a machine to remove the snow using a heated air blower.
The resulting machine was capable of removing the snow from a ground-mounted array for about the cost of a day's electricity production, Iandoli says, adding that since a December 2012 snowstorm took his solar fields out of production for nearly seven days, removing the snow from the modules proved to be an effective return on investment.
Iandoli subsequently began a new company, Maximum Solar LLC, and further refined the system. The company's SBJ II machine directs slightly warmed, high-velocity air horizontally over the face of solar panels to remove snow. The company currently offers snow removal services to solar array owners and operators using its machines, in addition to other operations and maintenance services.