A University of Michigan-led team has developed an inexpensive, clear coating that cuts snow and ice accumulation on solar panels, generating up to 85% more energy in early testing. The coating, which is claimed to effectively melt ice and snow down to -35 degrees Celsius, is made of PVC or PDMS plastic and silicon or vegetable-based oils which can be sprayed or brushed on in cold weather and keep shedding snow and ice for up to a year. Researchers tested the material on a solar field in Fairbanks, Alaska, applying the coating to a subset of panels that were monitored by automated cameras for about two weeks. The coated panels had an average snow and ice coverage of approximately 28% over an entire winter season compared to about 59% for the uncoated panels. The team plans further tweaks with the aim of developing a coating that can last at least five years.

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