Solar Robots: The Future Is Now

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The future arrives, with robots cleaning solar panels and building solar arrays. Ecoppia’s solar array cleaning robots have cleaned more than one million panels, without using water. The results are striking.

It’s a great time to be a robot. A solar robot, that is. Last week, Ecoppia announded that it has surpassed the one million mark of panels cleaned by its E4 robotic cleaning system. Ecoppia’s solar array cleaning robots use a water-free solution to keep PV panels clean and operating at peak performance,

In case you missed it, there is one fact that bears repeating. One of the huge benefits of the E4 robots is that they are completely water-free. That’s right. This cleaning system is not only completely autonomous, not only runs completey on solar power, but also does not use any water. This makes the system ideal for desert or drought-ridden areas. It also provides a huge benefit to the solar industry at large, as it continues to reduce the water use in any solar installation.

The E4 robots clean the solar panels with a soft microfiber cloth and use a controlled air flow cleaning system. They effectively remove 99% of dust each day, allowing optimal collection of solar power year round. With this type of system installed, soiling is virtually eliminated, and efficiency concerns disappear. Regular cleaning of panels can increase energy production by as much as 35%.

CEO of Ecoppia Eran Meller states, “We are proud to have reached this important milestone, as planned, while continuing to exceed customer expectations for reliability and cost-effectiveness…. We are on track to meet and exceed our expansion plans, such that Ecoppia robots will be cleaning 5 million panels a month by the end of the year, while adhering to the highest standards of operational excellence and customer satisfaction.” 

We have previously reported about Greenbotics, the solar panel cleaning company aquired by Sunpower late last year. That system does use some water, though it’s about half a cup per panel, as opposed to the five cups per panel typically seen in traditional panel cleaners.

If the trend continues toward reducing or eliminating the need for water to clean the solal panels, this will add significantly to solar’s already solid record in water conservation, as presented here.

In addition to cleaning solar panels, robots are increasingly being used to install and maintain solar arrays. Alion Energy is using robots to build and maintain their solar farms. Qbotix provides robots that travel along the solar array, ensuring that the panels are at the optimal tilt to receive the most energy from the sun. 

If there was ever any doubt that solar is the energy of the future, these robotic innovations should put an end to that.