Project Avalanche

logo 14 2023FCPC Solar Panel Snow Removal

Problem statement

The Forest County Potawatomi Community in Northern Wisconsin is seeking an automated method for removing snow and ice covering their 811 kW solar array in the winter because it limits power generation. Covered solar panels can have reduced power generation by 50% but the Potawatomi Community is reporting 0% power generation while covered. The Community has tried using a brush to clear the snow, but it leads to scratches and damage on the solar panel making it an unreliable, time consuming, and expensive solution. They are attempting to use clean, renewable energy to power their casino and community but are inhibited by their geographic location. Fortunately, there are possible solutions that have been researched such as reversing the current in the photovoltaic cells to generate heat and melt the snow [1]. However, there are no commercial products that use this technology and it has limited viability because it damages the panel’s internal components and decreases its lifespan significantly. Our goal is to design an automated system that either prevents snow accumulation or removes snow and ice from the face of the panel without damaging it in a cost-effective and energy-efficient manner. [1]A. Rahmatmand, S. J. Harrison, and P. H. Oosthuizen, “An experimental investigation of snow removal from photovoltaic solar panels by electrical heating,” Solar Energy, vol. 171, pp. 811–826, Sep. 2018, doi: 10.1016/j.solener.2018.07.015.

Team membersteam 14 2023

Rohan Hindia – leader
Alex Wells – communicator
Austin Bemboom – accountant
Nathan Mays – admin



Jerry Hauber, Forest County Potawatomi Community