Clean Future caught up with the director for Kapson Tekno Engineers, Pawan Kumaar to discuss their new offering, solar cleaning rollers that cleans the solar panels without water that enabled solar power producers save substantial amount of cleaning and maintenance costs.
How does waterless solar panel cleaning works?
The solar cleaning rollers are made of micro fiber stretchable cloth, which is scratch proof. The roller rotates in such a way that it gently removes the dust from the panel and slide down. Due to gravitational push dust will slides down and leave the panel clean without dust or stains.
How do you install and run the waterless solar panel cleaning system?
Our solar cleaning rollers, iXC-12 robot travel on a track specially created on the mounting frame. Once these tracks are installed, they take care of uneven landscaping, uneven panel installations and gaps between the panels. After the placement of tracks, iXC-12 robot wheels are manually placed in the track and power is switched on. The cleaning operation can be started by a push button or by creating a time-based schedule. The schedule can be loaded remotely or through laptop at site or a pre-programming can be done. As the system is self-powered, this can be programmed to start whenever sun is on. Therefore, it can simultaneously do the cleaning and charging.
How safe is it to operate waterless solar panel cleaning system and how about scratches on PV panel?
As described earlier that these solar cleaning rollers are made of micro fiber stretchable clothe which is scratch proof. So it is safe against scratches as well as it protects the Anti-Reflective Coating (ARC Coating) of the panels. On mechanical side as the weight of these robots is not dependent on the panels, therefore there is no chance that they can damage the panels in any condition.
What about the cost of operations and how does it compares to other systems including the water cleaning systems?
The average requirement for cleaning an installation of 1 MW of solar panels with water is about 5,00,000 liters of water per year and it can go up even more depending on the climatic conditions of geography and if solar plant is located in harsh or dusty conditions, than the need for water goes up considerably more. Finding water in such conditions itself is a big challenge, so sourcing water from somewhere else becomes a logistical and infrastructure issue such as tanker, storage, hoses and pipes along with labor, which increases the cost of operations.
Moreover cleaning with hard water damages the panels by scaling at the corners, which forms black spots. In addition, on other hand, cleaning with detergent and wipes destroy the ARC coating which in a way deflect the sunrays and reduce power generation.
The average Operation & Maintenance (O&M) cost of water based cleaning system for 1 MW solar panels is around 25-35 Lakhs of rupees per year. Almost 80% cost goes towards cleaning and rest 20% goes towards maintenance of the system. However, if you look at the cost of running a waterless cleaning system for same size of 1 MW, a operator can easily recover its investments within 1.5 to 2 years. Even the average cost for maintenance does not exceed 2 Lakhs per year for 1 MW.
How many models of water less solar panel cleaning systems in your portfolio and what is their cleaning speed?
Currently we have only one model, the iXC-12 robot in our product portfolio and but as the demand for various sizes grow we may introduce new models. The iXC-12 robot is able to clean around 1 meter of solar panels in one minute.
How is the water less solar panel cleaning system powered?
When the batteries are fully charged- the minimum running time is 1.30 hrs. , but since side by side battery is also getting charged by connected solar system so it can run up to 4-5 hours in one session.
How often do water less solar panel cleaning system require maintenance?
The system comes with a warranty of 2 and it can be extended for another 2 years as an extended warranty.
What is the typical life of an water less solar panel cleaning system?
The minimum life of iXC-12 robot is 5 years.
What has been the response from the market so far and what is your install base?
We are new to the market but so far we have received a encouraging response and we are targeting an install base of 100 MW in a year’s time.
What is the set up cost for their product and how does it compares with the water cleaning systems?
A water based cleaning system for 1 MW solar panel plant will require around 25-35 Lac rupees of O&M cost in which almost 80% is the cost of cleaning. Whereas a waterless cleaning system for a similar installation has an average cost not exceeding 2L / year / MW. One should realize the ROI in 2 years time.