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Negev desert solar field uses water-free robotic cleaning system

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Posted April 1, 2014
Negev desert solar field uses water-free robotic cleaning system
At large solar plants, keeping surfaces of solar panels free from dust and sand is not just a matter of good housekeeping but of whether or not the plants can really make a difference to the communities they want to serve. In other words, keeping the panels clean especially in very dry areas may be a matter of solar plant effectiveness or ineffectiveness. Solar plant panels in deserts collect large quantities of dust. Recently, a solar park in Israel was provided with an answer to the problem.

The 20-acre Ketura Sun Solar Park in the Negev Desert (located in the hot southern stretch, which suffers from sandstorms and little rain) was introduced to a robotic cleaning process from an Israel-based company, Ecoppia. No water is needed for the cleanups. Instead, each night (cleaning typically takes place during the early hours of dark) 100 centrally controlled E4 robots, as they are called, go to work on the panels using microfibers and controlled air flow to push dirt off panels. The robots use gravitation to move the dust particles downwards and off the panels. They move along a rigid aluminum frame with wheels coated with polyurethane; there is no load on the solar panels’ surface.

Ecoppia designed the system to be water-free and energy-efficient. When not cleaning, the robots are locked to a docking station outside of the solar PV row.

Read more at: Phys.org

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