India’s Next Automation has developed a tractor-mounted hydraulically operated arm as a cleaning solution for panels in solar farms.
From pv magazine India
Next Automation’s hydraulically operated cleaning machine, SolarTrack MK1, provides better control with optimal water usage.
“Currently, manual cleaning requires water tankers and laborers to clean panels on a routine basis,” Jagathala Prathapan, the founder of Next Automation, told pv magazine. “With an eight-hour working shift, it takes a month to clean a 15 MW plant with six laborers and 2,25,000 liters of water. SolarTrack MK1 takes just five days to clean the entire plant with a maximum of 70,000 to 90,000 liters of water.”
The overall cleaning system contains three parts: brush, water and hydraulic system.
The water system contains a water storage tank to carry water with the tractor itself. During the cleaning operation, a sprinkler system placed near the rotating brush sprays water on the surface of the panels. The wet cleaning gives more efficient cleaning than dry cleaning methods because the sticky particles and bird droppings cannot be cleaned with the dry cleaning methods.
The hydraulic system helps control the cleaning system’s swivel mechanism, brush rotation, and cleaning height adjustment for various inclinations of panels.
“For solar park operators, dust and bird droppings on the panels are the biggest enemy as it drastically reduces the solar panels’ efficiency. Our equipment can clean bird droppings and sticky particles, which is usually not possible with conventional panel cleaning robots. Wet cleaning is possible with the water system mounted itself,” said Prathapan.
As regards ease of use, SolarTrack MK1 can easily cover the entire panel length in a single swipe. The tool provides more accurate cleaning and requires no external power source or batteries. The SolarTrack cleaning system is externally mounted on tractors and can be customized. After use, it can be folded up and safely transported.
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