The Israeli solution to solar-panel performance has arrived. Innovative new robots, developed by Moshe and Eran Meller’s Herzliya-based start-up Ecoppia, clean the Ketura Sun solar field panels in the Arava every night.
Due to the dust and dirt that accumulate daily on the more than 18,000 panels spread around the largest solar energy production field in Israel, and due to the arid nature of the region, the solar field’s management was in the past forced to hire workers to manually clean the panels once a month.
Dust on the panels can reduce their electricity output by more than 35%. Ecoppia’s robots, produced in its Barlev industrial park plant, are fully automated, and clean the Ketura solar panels nightly.
The robots are installed on the panels, and recharge themselves independently from solar energy generated from their own solar panels. The founders claim that two hours solar charge are sufficient for the robots to run smoothly for three days. The robots are made out of strong, soft fibers, and work using controlled air pressure. Ecoppia says the robots’ operators can control them remotely using a personal computer, or smartphone.
Ecoppia’s E-4 robots begin working immediately when the massive solar panels finish absorbing sunlight. During the night, they glide across the panels and remove the layer of dust that has accumulated, without using water or chemicals, and prepare the large glass surfaces for another day of sun, at maximum efficiency.
“Most of the solar fields around the world are in arid regions, such as deserts. The problem is that in such areas, there is very little rain to clean them, and there is a ton of dust. Until now, the panels in such areas were cleaned manually, and, every few weeks, many workers were employed, who would also use a great deal of water in the process, which is an expensive commodity in the desert.
“Using the new robots, it is possible to carry out the same cleaning in a very short time, as opposed to the [manual] cleaning process, which in the past took a human crew five days, and took place nine times a year,” Ecoppia founder Eran Meller told “Globes.”
During the development of the E-4 robot, Ecoppia approached the Arava Power Company, which operates the Ketura Sun solar field.
The trial lasted three months, and the robots proved to have a good work ethic. With the trial's completion 100 robots were installed on panels around the field.
“Currently, the site at Ketura is the first in the world to have its solar panels cleaned automatically. Right now, we are focusing our operations on the Israeli market, and we are aiming for the US market as well. I believe that this summer we will announce additional partnerships,” said Meller.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on May 14, 2014
© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2014