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Particulate matter in atmosphere impacts on Europe’s solar power generation – researchers

The output of Europe’s solar power panels is influenced by particulate matter in the atmosphere that can partly block sunlight from reaching the earth’s surface, researchers from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and Germany’s National Meteorological Service (DWDhave found. Aerosols blown in from the Sahara Desert across the Mediterranean Sea or caused by forest fires in Europe contribute to cloud formation and thus impact on solar panels’ output, meaning that a better monitoring of particulate matter movements could also help improve projections of solar power generation, and therefore the necessary power grid management, the researchers say. “So far, this only happens inadequately or not at all,” KIT argued in a press release.

Solar power in Germany reached an unprecedented share in the country’s power mix in the first months of 2020, contributing about ten percent to electricity consumption thanks to lots of sunshine and lower power demand due to the coronavirus pandemic. Forecasting the output of renewable power sources is becoming more important as the share of renewables in the power mix grows, in order to keep the grid stable and its management costs low.

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