Kipp & Zonen Blog

Solar-Tech innovations inspired by rice fields

[fa icon="calendar"] April 03, 2017 / by Erik Valks

Erik Valks

In emerging economies provision of electricity at a local level is a major problem. How to reduce the expensive import or transport of fossil fuels? How to provide energy locally, in an environmentally clean and sustainable manner? How to do that based on a cost-effective distribution network?

These are examples of the issues that can be resolved by installing solar generating plants as a source of energy. Just imagine a remote village, way off the grid and with limited transport connections, that is in need of affordable power. Suddenly, these philosophical issues become real.

I recently visited such a place in Thailand, where a remote rural community growing rice in paddy fields was equipped with a solar energy power plant. The beautiful setting is illustrated in the picture!

However, as in many rural environments, rice farming poses soiling problems for PV panels. Traditionally, in Southeast Asia the rice stubble is burned each year, between February and the April rains, to prepare the land for the next crop. This produces enormous air quality issues and leaves layers of ash on the PV panels, severely reducing their performance. In drought periods, dust storms can cover everything, posing another problem to both energy consumers and investors.

While Kipp & Zonen products are widely known for their quality and reliability in measuring the potential output of a solar power plant, it became clear to me that users could benefit from new, smarter, instruments - solar-tech innovations that will inform operators and investors accurately about actual and potential performance loss. The paddy fields thus provided insights into new ways that Kipp & Zonen could improve its solar irradiation monitoring systems into even better and more relevant solutions.

I invite everybody to visit us at Intersolar in Munich from 31st May to 2nd June to see how we transferred paddy field problems into new product solutions. Register to make sure you don’t miss an exclusive preview.


Topics: Intersolar