The performance of solar power plants is related to a set of environmental factors.
One of those factors is the presence of soil on the surface of the module. Soiling can reduce the power output of the PV array by between 15-30% annually if the impact is severe.
Based on this fact, it is important to perform a periodic cleaning schedule to the modules in order to ensure the maximum energy yields from the PV system.
So far, the industry has proposed many products and options to make solar panel cleaning easier in commercial or utility scale systems where the number of solar panels is considerable.
Some of these products such as the SunPower Oasis cleaning system are established solutions that automatically clean a solar panel string just by swiping across the modules with soft wet brushes.
The product cleans up to 45,000 solar panels in a 10-hour shift, reducing O&M costs and reducing about 75% of the water necessary for the task.
Also, the maintenance can be performed up to 20 times faster than with manual cleaning.
However, this product is mainly focused on the utility scale projects due to the size of the equipment.
Here we will focus on another solution that can be used for residential or small commercial projects.
Hycleaner is a German company that is focused on providing valuable solutions to make the cleaning process easier in renewable energy projects.
The brand has designed remote robotic devices that can be managed from a safe distance on the ground or from a single spot in the roof.
The great advantage of these products is their maneuverability and simple design.
Using a remote device you can control the direction of the robot that includes soft brushes and water to clean the solar panels.
This makes cleaning much easier on the roofs of commercial buildings and houses as well.
Moreover, since there is no high water pressure needed to clean the modules, there is absolutely no chance that water might be entering inside the panel or damaging the encapsulating material.
The brand offers 2 main products for the solar industry.
The hyCLEANER greenfield 2500 product is designed for ground mounting systems in commercial areas.
It is similar to the SunPower Oasis model since it uses a large device with soft brushes to clean the solar panels.
You may be wondering if the device is that big, then perhaps the weight could be dangerous for the modules? The short answer to that is no!
The great advantage of a product like this is that it has been tested and designed to have a surface load that is way below the allowable snow and wind loads that the solar panels are made to withstand.
Besides, the brushes include a special and flexible suspension system that is directly mounted on the chassis which reduces the impact on the modules and allows it to work in irregular landscapes.
Regarding the use of water, it has also been optimised to clean using the least possible amount of water that can be either recycled water or even rainwater.
hyCleaner Black Solar is the main and most iconic product of the brand.
Truly a new solution to the solar panel cleaning industry.
The length of the device is 1.30 m, it has a width of 1 m and weighs around 80 kg.
This makes it perfect for the residential sector where the solar panel system is on the roof and even for small commercial projects.
The remote control can be executed from 100 m away with an adjustable speed.
The hyCLEANER is able to perform cleaning on sloped surfaces up to 35º (essential for pitch roofs) and can be easily transported from one place to another.
Also, the hyCLEANER is powered by lithium-ion batteries of 42V for maximum performance.
Another great benefit of these machines is that the operator does not need to make any physical effort and all borders of the PV array can be easily cleaned, thanks to the shape and the way that the brushes are constructed
Making solar panel cleaning easy is highly desirable in the industry.
So far, solutions had only come out for utility-scale projects where the impacts of soiling in the system and O&M costs were much higher.
However, now thanks to the hyCLEANER robot it is possible to make a solar panel cleaning much easier, faster and safer for the residential and commercial sector as well.
The application of this technology has now been applied mainly in Europe, however, it is expected that soon it will be available in other regions such as the Middle East and Australia.
In these regions the impact of soiling is important and the positive effect that these devices can have on the solar industry will contribute to the development of more PV projects.
If you want to see how much solar or battery storage could save you over the next 5 years, then take our solar saving calculator quiz below!
Or talk to an Instyle Solar expert about the best solutions for home energy storage or PV-panels.
Otherwise, head back to the solar blog to find even more great educational content.
Photo credit: hyCLEANER