Solar Theory FAQs

Are atmospheric aerosols important for solar energy in Australia?

Many atmospheric aerosols are a natural component of our atmosphere. They include wind-borne dust, salt particles originating from the evaporation of sea spray, and the fine drops of volatile oil emitted by eucalypt forests. Anthropogenic aerosols (caused by humans) include a high portion of the sulphates in the air.

A high atmospheric aerosol content can have an adverse effect on solar power generation. This occurs through absorption and reflection of incoming solar energy and, particularly, the scattering of light which reduces efficiency of concentrating solar power systems. While short-term increases can occur from fires and other phenomena, the atmosphere over Australia is relatively clean compared to some other parts of the world (Europe, for example) which have a significantly greater content of anthropogenic aerosols.