Mirai Kikai, a Japan-based robotics startup, has successfully commenced the trial operation of its dry-cleaning robots at Bhadla Solar Park in Rajasthan, one of the largest mega solar projects in India.
For the next 2-month of test period from February 2019, the pilot model of Mirai Kikai’s Type 2 autonomous dry-cleaning robots will run across the RattanIndia’s 70MW solar panels wiping out dusts and fine sands from the surface.
Solar power’s dilemma: loss from soiling or costs for cleaning?
Developers and operators of the 2,000MW mega solar park have faced the problem of sand piling on and covering panels, or “soiling loss”, as soon as the power plants came in operation. In worst cases, soils aggravate generation efficiency by more than 10% in a month, according to the Mirai Kikai’s own research. Many plants adopted manual wet cleaning, which undermined profitability as the result of higher water and labor cost. Some machinery solutions have been considered as alternatives, but huge capex to install one machine per each array have bottlenecked many solar plants to make decisions. “Our customers say that solar plants are suffering from developing costs already; we don’t want to pour more money on top of that,” says Mr. Yamao, the Global Sales Manager of Mirai Kikai.
Mirai Kikai’s lightweight smart robot offers an affordable solution
Mirai Kikai’s Type 2 is specially designed to dry-clean maximum 4MW panels per robot that autonomously drives within an array at 4m width. The portable 60kg robot requires only two people to stand by and move it from one array to another, when it finishes operation at one array. “The solution reduces not only the water cost but also concerns over large capex investment because our robots do more work with less,” says Mr. Yamao. “Many of our customers find our semi-automated solution a huge relief because it doesn’t require large numbers of fixtures to be installed onto their panels. Immediate adoption and financial impact enabled by strong robotic algorithm is our strengths.”
Mirai Kikai wrote the new history of dry-cleaning robot solution
Mirai Kikai has been renowned as a frontier of industrial robotics by developing a self-driving dry-cleaning solution for long. “We are the first runner in this field,” said Dr. Miyake, the President and CEO of the company. “Our solution is totally different in terms of approach and quality. We could have compromised by installing numbers of robots – but instead, we have studied portable, adoptable, and accessible solution to provide greater value to our customers.”
The RattanIndia plant’s operator, Sterling & Wilson, and Mirai Kikai will conduct the final performance test and adjustment before fully adopting Mirai Kikai’s Type 2 solution to the site. RattanIndia power plant will add more robots to its site once the test is completed in success.