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China is investing big in solar PV but new research from Duke University suggests that particulate matter in air pollution is slashing panel efficiency by as much as 17 per cent. Solar radiation can be blocked, absorbed or scattered by particulate matter in the atmosphere – a phenomenon known as solar dimming. This reduces the intensity of sunlight reaching solar panels, resulting in less power being generated. This is a major issue in China because air pollution is notoriously bad and investment in solar PV is being promoted as a way to fix it.

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