The cleaning of sensitive surfaces is a challenge. And according to Serbot AG, many operators of solar panel installations give away their profits because they are unaware of the effect that dirt has on their installations. PES investigates the Swiss company’s innovative, robotic solutions.
Certainly, the surfaces on PV installations often still look good, but the performance loss amounts to 10%, and that clearly should not be the case. Serbot AG develops automated cleaning concepts for medium and large installations. The company’s innovative solutions can also be used for cleaning glass facades on buildings.
No personnel on the roof
Typically, solar panels on rooftops or glass facades of buildings are cleaned manually. This is often accompanied by significant safety risks for the cleaning staff. However, these risks could be avoided with automated systems.
Serbot AG’s solutions are based on robots that attach themselves to smooth surfaces via suction. The suction cups of these robots are mounted on a kind of gear ring, so that they can be moved and give the robot the freedom to move on the surface in any direction.
A robot is used for cleaning solar panel installations on house and barn roofs that can operate a brush up to a width of 1.8m. These robots are used by a variety of cleaning companies, and Serbot customers have managed to cover up to 150 km in a single season with such a device.
Slightly larger robots are used for open installations. They can operate up to 6m wide brushes. And because they attach themselves to the panels via suction, no additional installations are necessary such as rod systems or fixed paths. In addition to the reduced investment costs, risks of damaging the panels are also reduced. This is because crane booms that access the panels from the ground are not necessary.