This study demonstrates that a drone flying above photovoltaic (PV) panels can clean the dust and enhance the panels’ efficiency. If operated regularly, the drone’s downward thrust generated during its cruise at a certain height above the panels can remove most of the accumulated dust. Sandstorms are frequent in Saudi Arabia, creating dust deposition on PV panels, which acts as a shield against solar radiation. As a result, the energy absorption from solar radiation is reduced and subsequently, the panels’ energy output is reduced. This experimental investigation was conducted at KFUPM University’s beach, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, to prove the effectiveness of drone-based cleaning of PV panels. Volumes of 20, 50, and 100 CC of dust were spread on the panel during different experiments. These experimental results showed that the back thrust of the drone could remove most of the dust and improve the solar panels’ energy output performance. For example, for 50 CC dust spread on the panel, the current increased from 1.34 A to 2.16 A (61.2% increase), relative to the pre- and post-drone flight for horizontal movement of the drone. Similarly, for vertical and diagonal movements, the current increased by 69.83% and 68.03%, respectively, for a dust spread of 20 CC. Furthermore, dust reductions of 74.64%, 57.0%, and 78.4% were realized during the horizontal, vertical, and diagonal paths, respectively, of the drone flight for 50 CC dust spread.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8159
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to acknowledge the support of the Deanship of Research Oversight and Coordination at KFUPM under contract DF191024. In addition, the authors would like to acknowledge the help of U. Johar, W. Suliman, F. Bin Hussein, A. Aljohani, A. Almusharaf, and M. Alsalman.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors.


  • drones
  • dust removal
  • improving efficiency
  • solar panels cleaning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Building and Construction
  • Fuel Technology
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Energy (miscellaneous)
  • Control and Optimization
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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