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Since solar projects last decades, averaging 25-year-long spans, any additional technology added to a site needs to be equally durable. While robotic cleaning may represent a relatively low portion of overall site CapEx, the risk posed when choosing a vendor without experience, the required certifications, and an extensive testing program can be significant. A robotic cleaning solution must be shown to clean effectively, consistently, and reliably, and moreover, it must be verified that it can clean tens of thousands of times without causing any damage.
Ensuring Safety through Intensive Testing
A good robotic cleaning company proves its worth through extensive testing and it is therefore important to ask robot providers about their testing practices. Testing should not stop once the robots are deployed, and companies should look to keep checking performance both up close and from afar.
Things that one should be worried about can include questions such as where the main components are manufactured, if the company tests in the lab and the field, how the robots are tested for longevity and durability in harsh climates. Feel at ease asking the vendor if the cleaning solutions have passed environmental testing, or stress and distraction tests, and ask the vendor to ensure that the anti-reflective coating (ARC) stays intact after hundreds and thousands of cleaning cycles.
Additionally, investigate the module structure testing, and enquire if a potential provider works in collaboration with tracker makers for a cost-effective integration. One can also go into detailed questions about module testing including acceleration testing, which involves simulating field conditions and should require thousands of cleaning cycles to mimic long periods, to ascertain that daily robotic cleaning does not harm any to the site assets.
At Ecoppia, safety and reliability are at the core of its offering, and the company does not believe testing is something to mark off a checklist, but rather an ongoing process. As the company has gained more experience developing robotic solutions and in field operation over the last decade, Ecoppia has made sure its R&D team is in continuous testing mode. With a 3,000m2 validation center, dedicated to extensive testing, the qualification and testing process applies to the overall product as well as to individual components. Every aspect of the robotic performance is analyzed – from impact on modules, coating, structure, to connections between neighboring structures, among other things. Ecoppia credits its commitment to testing as one of reasons the company can offer the safest robots on the market for the leading IPPs, providing a cleaning solution that significantly impacts LCOE over any projects’ lifetime.
Ecoppia in Numbers:
+ 3,700MW deployed
+ 16,000MW signed agreements
+ 30 large scale projects
4 continents of operation
For nearly a decade, and with over 16GW of agreements, Ecoppia has been the pioneer and world leader in robotic cleaning solutions for PV. Offering a cloud-based platform and a suite of advanced solutions, Ecoppia’s fully autonomous robots cost-effectively maximize the performance of utility-scale PV sites all over the world. Remotely managed and controlled, the Ecoppia platform allows solar sites to maintain peak performance with minimal costs and human intervention.