Technology provider announces robotics system to keep solar panels at peak performance — here’s how it works – The Cool Down

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An Australia-based company called Solar Energy Robotics has developed what it refers to as “the only automated solar panel cleaner that has been designed to perform in the harshest and toughest mine site conditions.” 

The technology is meant to keep solar panels online for longer, allowing people and companies who harvest clean, renewable energy from the sun to get the most bang for their buck.

Solar panels operate by absorbing energy from the sun, and in order to do that job, they must be kept clean. 

Once a solar panel gets covered in dust, dirt, or grime — which can happen pretty quickly, as solar panels are, by necessity, located outdoors — sunlight is unable to get through at the same rate, which means the panel is no longer absorbing as much energy.

That means that solar panels need to be cleaned periodically, a job that is, at present, done mostly by humans. That can be expensive, labor-intensive, and even dangerous, depending on where the panels are installed. Solar Energy Robotics went even a step further, calling it “a very unpleasant horrible task for skilled workers to execute regularly.”

The company also noted that a manual water- and broom-based cleaning method can damage the solar panels, causing cracks and abrasions.

The solution, according to this company, is the Autonomous Solar Cleaning Robot that it has created. The ASCR is fully autonomous, uses no water (instead it uses a soft nylon brush), and can be permanently installed on a solar array. Even better, the robot itself operates via solar power as well.

Solar Energy Robotics says that its Autonomous Solar Cleaning Robots can save users 70% compared to the costs of regular manual cleaning.

At present, according to its website, the company supplies Autonomous Solar Cleaning Robots to Australian mine operators, and it has been active since 2018. 

However, it is not difficult to imagine this type of technology spreading to other solar panels throughout the world — even someday making it easier for homeowners to maintain their own solar panels installed on rooftops.

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