Paper presented to the 3rd Southern African Solar Energy Conference, South Africa, 11-13 May, 2015.
Solar panel overheating drastically reduces their efficiency and lifespan. This overheating is mainly associated with temperature fluctuations that occur under severe weather conditions. Overheating also has the potential to form electric arcs that can start to melt metal fixtures and burn away the module's insulating materials. The efficiency of electric solar panels is strongly dependent on temperature regime (especially in hot climates).
For this reason, the introduction of cheap and light water-cooling, or a more general liquid-cooling system inside the solar panel, appears reasonable. Hollow fibre cooling systems consisting of plastic tubes of a small diameter (less than 1 mm) are one possible and simple solution. Fibres placed inside solar panels can be glued or otherwise connected to the surface and coolant flowing through them provides efficient and uniform cooling of all photovoltaic cells. Hollow fibres have very thin walls (about 0.1 mm) to transfer heat easily, and the system is light, compact and resistant to corrosion. Heat removed from the panel may be used for domestic or industrial needs or transferred to the atmosphere by cooling towers or dry-coolers.