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December 15, 2015 AT 3:00 am

Solar Panel Cleaning Robots To Keep Panels Clean In Desert #SolarPower

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Autonomous robots to be used in keeping dust off solar panels in Israel’s biggest solar field. timesofisrael

Like the new site, most solar energy farms are located in deserts, where there is plenty of sunlight — which solar panels, of course, need a lot of. But the desert also has a lot of dust, which clogs up the photovoltaic components of the panels, making them less effective in collecting sunlight for conversion into energy. Panels have to be cleaned on a regular basis, but water in the desert tends to be expensive, if available at all — and the use of water to clean the panels raises the costs of production, making solar power too expensive to be considered anything more than a novelty.

If the world hopes to reduce its use of fossil fuels, as the Paris agreement requires, solar has to become less expensive — and Ecoppia’s technology can do that. Instead of using water to clean panels, Ecoppia’s robot cleaners are equipped with microfibers, with each robot assigned to a row of PV panels. Using controlled air flow, the robots push the accumulated dirt off panels, as they glide along the surface of panels on their polyurethane-coated aluminum frame using wheels.

Each robot can cover about 100 square feet of panel each minute, saving not only water, but time. The robots are controlled by a central cloud-based control panel, and can operate in tandem (starting and finishing at the same time) or autonomously, based on the instructions given by park staff.

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