Norwegian researchers develop new solar panel cleaning robot

A solar farm just outside Hungary’s capital Budapest now boasts a cleaning robot, whose micro-shower and cleaning pad effectively remove the contaminant particles from solar cells, maximizing their efficiency.

Developed as a joint project between Norway’s independent research organization SINTEF and Hungarian company ProDSP Technology, the robot performs cleaning without the use of chemicals or any unwanted discharges for the environment.

In order to determine how much the contamination occludes sunlight, the scientists are now focused on studying different types of dirt, as not much earlier research was carried out into the matter.

“The degree to which dust particles and contamination affect solar cells is very location-dependent”, explains Birgit Ryningen, solar cell researcher. “We’ve seen that some dust particles absorb light while others reflect it, and small particles reflect more light than larger ones, whereas some scale contamination is biological and acts as a kind of ‘sun factor’.”

However, all types of dirt need to be removed for the solar cell to be able to work at its best. Therefore, the researchers have developed a cleaning system that deals with all known types of contamination in a fast, sensitive and environmentally friendly way.

“Cleaning is part of standard operational procedures at our solar energy farms, where equipment is cleaned at least once or twice a year on order to avoid soiling. This involves the removal of everything from sand to bird droppings “, says Caroline Sissener, Project Manager at Norwegian solar company Scatec Solar, describing the cleaning robot as very interesting for the company’s solar farms located in the Middle East.