Italian renewables giant Enel Green Power and Sicily-based robotic tech startup Reiwa have developed a robot that automatically cleans solar panels without using water or gas.
Dust and dirt can be a real problem on solar panels, as it interferes with their performance, especially in particularly dusty or desert areas. Pressure washers or tractors with hydraulic brushes are typically used to clean solar panels, but they’re labor-intensive and use – and waste – a lot of water.
Enter the new robot from Enel Green Power and Reiwa, called SandStorm, which autonomously moves along rows of solar panels and then recharges itself using solar power when it returns to its docking station.
SandStorm can charge up during the day and then clean at night, so it doesn’t interfere with the panels’ energy production.
The robot cleans the solar panels using a specially designed and manufactured brush system that can adapt to panel trackers’ sometimes bumpy alignment, and it moves independently from one row of panels to the next.
Enel Green Power has already tested the SandStorm at its research center in Catania, Sicily, and also on a 1-megawatt (MW) section of a solar farm it operates in Totana, Spain.
Photo: Enel Green Power
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