Socio Economic Case for Robotic Solar Panel Cleaning
While the sun shines, over half of Delhi’s metro trains run on power generated 800 km away in a solar park in Rewa, Madhya Pradesh. At the solar park, spread over 4,000-acre, roughly the size of 3,000 football fields, a sea of panels touch the horizon in every direction.
Manual Water Based Solar Panel Cleaning
It is estimated that 94% of India’s solar capacity is exposed to medium to high level water risk. Some of the water scarce and arid states of India require 600,000 m³/year to 1,000,000 m³/year water for module cleaning further exacerbating the dire water scarcity situation.
The process involves people in construction helmets coming out after sunset gushing water meant to remove the dust on the panels to increase their power efficiency. The job pays around INR 30 (USD 0.35 cents) to hose down one panel. For the roughly 20 panels washed every day, they earn around Rs 6,000 to Rs 9,000 each month. Not the kind of jobs that are either meaningful or sustainable.
Solar Cleaning Robots
Our Water-Free Solar Cleaning Robots present an attractive alternative to the current manual process. The installation of Robots with the Solar Park would lead to a marginal CAPEX increase of approximately 3%. This would be paid back several times over by virtue of a more stringent cleaning regime. This would improve the efficiency by 2-5% over the water based cleaning regime annually and 5-10% overall reduction in soiling losses. The gain in conjunction with the reduced water use would result in amortization of the extra CAPEX within two years and manifold benefit accrual over the life of the Solar Plant.