Depending on where a solar panel is installed, dirt and dust buildup can seriously impact efficiency.
Cleaning a few solar panels, on your home, to increase efficiency might not seem like a big deal. After all, we’re talking perhaps a couple hundred square feet. You could do that in an afternoon. On the other hand, what if you have to clean 871,000 ft2 (20 acres) of solar panels that make up Israel’s Ketura Sun? Ketura Sun is the first commercial solar power plant in Israel, run by Siemens AG and Arava Power, and produces some 9 TWh (terawatt-hours) per year.
In Israel’s dusty Negev Desert, however, where Ketura Sun is located, keeping 871,000 ft2 of solar panels clean is a big problem. Cleaning Ketura Sun is so expensive and time-consuming, not to mention water use and possible damage to the solar panels themselves, that the field was only being cleaned about nine times a year. But what about in the meantime, when dust buildup can impact solar panel output by as much as 35%? Ecoppia’s ingenious solution eliminates this dusty efficiency problem…
Ecoppia E4 robots, mounted on horizontal tracks, are themselves solar powered, charging during the day and doing their work at night. At night, when the sun goes down, the Ecoppia E4 robots come alive, using microfiber brushes and air jets to blow off the day’s dust. Ecoppia’s system is completely independent of power sources, water sources (unlike Heliotex’s version) and, most likely, only requires periodic replacement of the microfiber brushes. Ecoppia says that the E4 robots can remove up to 99% of the dust that builds up on the solar panels, thus improving efficiency by up to 35%.
Image © Ecoppia