SINTEF Robot Cleans Solar Panels
Today's solar panels are highly efficient - but they need to be clean to be at their best
(I think they're perfect!)
At a solar energy farm just outside Budapest in Hungary, a cleaning robot is industriously getting on with today's task. Hundreds of square metres of solar panels are waiting to be cleaned – as quickly and effectively as possible. And without the use of chemicals or any unwanted discharges to the natural environment. The robot is the result of a joint project between Norwegian researchers and the Hungarian company ProDSP Technology.
"It's a well known fact that solar panels work more efficiently when they're clean," says SINTEF researcher and Project Manager Martin Bellmann who, in his day-to-day work, develops what is known as sustainable energy technology. "But what's new here is that we've developed a robot to do the job. This means that the solar cells are cleaned both quickly and efficiently with as little as possible wear and tear or environmental impact," he says.
The robot cleaner currently in SINTEF’s laboratory has undergone a range of tests. Researchers have experimented with a variety of micro cleaning pads, chemicals and air pressure application approaches — all tested, of course, on different types of soiling.
Arthur C. Clarke described window-cleaner robots in his 1972 novel Rendezvous with Rama:
There were the "window cleaners," with large padded feet, who were apparently polishing their way the whole length of Rama's six artificial suns. Their enormous shadows, cast right across the diameter of the world, sometimes caused temporary eclipses on the far side.
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