Morocco, as any other country, has increasing energy demands, and electricity demand has been projected to rise by 250% from 2015 to 2030, causing the demand to double. The economic growth, the increasing Moroccan population, and the nation’s industrial sector are all motivating factors that drive the demand for more energy sources.
In the agricultural sector, renewable energy offers irrigation solutions to farmers by using the solar water pumps. This system is allowing them to manage the water in a sustainable and ecological manner in favor of exploiting the radiative energy of the sun. Therefore, farmers will get access to water without the constraint of oil or gas supplies in order to operate.
Most nurseries of the High Atlas Foundation have installed solar panels mainly in order to help with the water pumps and also to make use of cheap, renewable solar energy for the long term.
Maintaining the solar panels does not only keep them clean but it also guarantees longer and more effective performance. Last month, the High Atlas Foundation (HAF) Farmer to Farmer (F2F) team welcomed Jan Stenstrom, a US Volunteer who traveled all the way to Morocco in order to share his expertise in the field of solar panels with the caretaker of different communities nurseries.
The solar panels generally need simple and easy maintenance, which can be done two to four times per year, according to the area where they are installed. For example, if it rains more often in a given place, nature is automatically cleaning the panels. However, periodic cleaning is needed in a place where dirt, leaves and other debris cover the solar panels most of the time.
The F2F team and the US volunteer visited three nurseries, two in the Marrakech-Safi Region and one nursery in the Beni-Mellal region. Mr. Stenstrom started all the training by talking about the right materials to do the cleaning, and it is important to note that abrasive soap or sponges are dangerous and might scratch the panels, which therefore leads to less effective production of the energy.
Another important advice for the nurseries’ caretakers to remember is to start the cleaning at an early time of the day before the sunrise or later in the day when the sun sets. Wetting the panels when they are warm might harm the panels and cause damages. That is why the cleaner shall go for the maintenance when the solar panels are cold.
As for the directions, Mr.Stenstrom explained that it is always preferable to start by mixing a biodegradable soap with water in a big bucket, and then dipping in a soft rag and beginning to gently wipe the solar panels. In case there is any grime or dirt that has built up on the panel, it is better to use a soft, wet brush. Last, use a hose for water to rinse the panels and, just as importantly, use a soft wiper at the end. At sites where the panels are very large and difficult to reach because of height as well as enclosure, it is preferred to install a pipe with holes, two centimeters apart, along the top edge of the panel structure, connected to the water system. This would allow for a safe, and easy cleaning of the panels, like the rain would do and it does not present an additional cost to the nurseries’ caretakers.
As you can see, the maintenance steps are simple and easy to implement. However, the person cleaning the panels should be careful and use only soft materials to avoid scratching them.
The nursery's caretakers were reassured that following these steps will definitely guarantee a great, long-term efficiency of the panels.