It’s true that panels are less efficient at higher temperatures. Photovoltaic (PV) cells convert a slightly lower proportion of sunlight into electricity in hotter conditions, solar groups explain.
They’re built to function from -40C to +85C. Performance does fall when temperatures go above 25C, but only by 0.34 per cent for every additional degree.
That’s pretty marginal stuff, according to Solar Energy UK. Even at close to boiling point, power output would only be around 20 per cent lower it says, other factors being equal.
“It’s not actually a big deal. High temperatures only marginally affect the overall output of solar power – it’s a secondary effect” says the UK’s leading technical expert on the technology, Alastair Buckley, Professor of Organic Electronics at the University of Sheffield.
“If it’s sunny and hot, you are going to get good power output. It doesn’t fall off a cliff.”
The university provides live PV generation data which backs this up; solar power has been serving around 27 per cent of the UK’s power needs each lunchtime for the past week.
And if you’re wondering, the UK isn’t being kitted out with different solar panels that can’t withstand its increasingly hotter summers.
“Solar power works perfectly well in the Saudi Arabian desert – and the same panels are being installed there as on rooftops in Birmingham or a field in Oxfordshire,” says Solar Energy UK Chief Executive Chris Hewett.