Vermont Patent of the Month – March 2021

Snow accumulation can block the sun rays and cause significant losses for solar panels. Currently there are no reliable methods to remove snow from these PV systems. The most common suggestions are to let it melt or to manually clear it off yourself. However, these are not possible if the panels are anywhere remote or if the temperature is too cold to melt the snow. Norwich Technologies, Inc. saw this limitation and decided to develop a solution.

Norwich Technologies aims to rapidly advance the integration and deployment of affordable Solar Power especially to small businesses. Their solution uses a structure which sits between the photovoltaic arrays that make up the panel, and provides a lip for the snow to glide over. This prevents the snow from settling along a ridge at the edge of the array, encouraging the snow to slide off rather than build up. Connected to this structure is a heater and a mechanical vibration actuator. A camera stores images of the panels and a program tracks the snow presence from these images. If snow is seen to build up, the program can initiate use of either the heater or vibrations. The heater melts the snow allowing it to dissipate or slide off more quickly, and the vibrator causes the snow to move if stuck. This combination of methods into a single structure provides a sure method of automated snow removal. 

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