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BIS TECHNOVATORS | Solabot’s Robotic Cleaning Solutions Reshaping Solar Power Market

Amit-AggarwalSolabot Technologies, a Ghaziabad based Start-up, has become one of the top suppliers of cost effective and efficient automatic dry solar panel cleaning robotic solutions. Amid the increasing water scarcity gaining traction in various parts of India, Solabot’s innovative dry cleaning solar panel robotic systems offers clean solar power plant, with minimal human interface and negligible operational cost and with optional monitoring. Major developers in solar power market have started deploying the robotic cleaning systems installed on large solar parks with these solutions.

In the latest talk with Aishwarya from BISinfotech; Amit Aggarwal, Founder & Director, Solabot Technologies talks about challenges and scopes in the Renewables sector.

  1. Please share the details about Solabot’s unique services and the use of Robotics and IoT in it.

Solabot offers Dry Robotic cleaning solutions for the cleaning of solar panels in solar plants across India. The robotic system cleans the solar module without using water which helps in avoiding the installation of infrastructure required to clean the solar panels such as Borewell, RO plant and related piping within the PV plant. Dry robotic cleaning solution stops wastage of water and allows groundwater tables to be retained or increased over a while. Dry Robotic cleaners use state-of-the-art technology and are available in two different variants. Solabot is currently working on new developments for the Tracking system and also on floating solar and would like to follow the market trends. We are already working on large module wattage cleaning as this is becoming more and more popular among developers currently.

Automatic systems are deployed and programmed to clean solar modules on daily basis resulting in increasing the overall plant efficiency and revenues for the Asset owners. This is not possible with wet cleaning as generally the cleaning cycles are restricted to 2 cycles per month or 18-20 cycles per year. IoT has been very relevant in today’s and future operations of equipment, Solabot has set up an advanced platform around IoT to cater preventive, predictive maintenance for the Robots enabling seamless services to be provided to the customer by closely analyzing and monitoring the performance of various components in the Robots, their wear and tear, replacement timelines. These data points are very important for future analysis and would help improve the product efficiencies going forward.

Semi-Automatic systems are deployed where solar panels are cleaned with manual intervention and Robots are transferred manually from one row to another row or from one table to another table. These solutions are best suited to operational projects. These systems are best suited where the solar panels are installed on unlevelled ground and tables are not properly aligned and are not in continuity.

2.  What separates Solabot from other Clean Energy Technology Companies?

Solabot offers a uniquely solution-oriented approach that caters to both existing projects and under construction or design and at various development stages. We work very closely with our customers to understand their complete requirements related to Dry cleaning and then advise a solution that is both technically feasible and commercially attractive in terms of ROI to be offered to customers. Our uniqueness is the simple though robust product offering and a strong focus on quality and after-sales service, as we take our appointments very seriously because we are foreseen as an additional revenue-generating stream that was never tapped or exploited earlier. We are forthcoming in our approach to our customers and work on strict timelines to deliver projects and commit to performance-based incentives as we are confident about our product delivery. Solabot is an India-based manufacturing company that is producing cleaning Robots locally and is supplying to more than 11 states currently on different large-scale Solar projects.

3. Which sectors are your key focus areas and upcoming projects?

Solabot currently is catering to standard Fixed and Seasonal Tilt PV plants. Our key focus area remains all the operational and upcoming Solar projects where we can propose our robust cleaning solutions to our esteemed customers who ultimately get benefited by saving huge quantities of water and in parallel increasing generation gain resulting in overall revenue gain for the end customer. Our key focus area remains continuous product development and improving efficiencies of the products. We are currently working on developing a Robotic cleaning system for Tracker solutions in short term and also looking at cleaning solutions for floating solar projects as this is something which we foresee is going to pick up in 2022 onwards. Floating solar is something we are observing very closely and would be keen to work with EPCs and Developers to understand their requirements and needs as the spread of the PV plant is huge and the modules are always floating in the water with little movement of panels all the time.

4. How did your Dry-Cleaning Robotic Solutions help in the country’s solar energy technology adoption?

Following are the major takeaways that Dry cleaning provides compared to conventional methods of cleaning of Solar Modules.

  • Waterless and Economical compared to wet cleaning.
  • Does not form any scales or accumulate water marks on the panels, which is a large possibility in the case of wet cleaning done by tankers.
  • Environment friendly and does not pose any electrical hazard when compared to wet cleaning which could short circuit the panel cells, if there is a leakage.
  • Every panel can be cleaned daily unlike wet cleaning where the periodicity is normally 15 days.
  • Quicker ROI basis negligible Soiling losses due to everyday cleaning of Solar Modules
  • Night cleaning to avoid daytime power generation loss.

5. As the Indian government has extensive plans for clean energy adoption in India, what are your expectations? Please explain

GOI has been very supportive of clean energy solutions in the country. Recent announcements from Hon’ble PM slogan of Local for Vocal, Atmanirbhar Bharat, Make in India all compliments very well with the overall strategy of Solabot. There are huge bids been announced and awarded to Developers and there is a very strong pipeline of several GWs is already either under development or the projects are realizing on the ground. Solabot strongly believes GOI to announce and enforce regulations around Dry robotic cleaning solutions for all the existing and ongoing projects whether tendered by the Centre or States so that we can secure precious water resources for our future generations. Ambitious government targets to encourage energy optimization and enhance efforts to decrease the dependency on non-renewable power sources will increase the deployment of large-scale solar projects. In addition, a growing focus on financial savings, reducing carbon footprint, and maintaining a stable power output will provide an avenue for business growth. There is a huge demand for water because of a growing population and arid areas where most of the Solar implementation is awarded are anyways scarce of water resources, Rajasthan government has done a commendable job through SECI to get all the Solar projects with Robotic cleaning only to be implemented on the ground. More and more knowledge and awareness should be spread across so that this can become not only a water savior but India become a manufacturing hub for PV plants across the globe. GOI should instruct Nodal agencies to promote local companies and manufacturers more and more to get good products and services locally.

6. How was the year 2019-2020 & 2020-21 in terms of business and your future marketing strategy?

Solabot slowly picked up the pace at end of 2018 when we were introducing products and some Developers trusted and relied on Solabot and allowed us to nurture under their guidance to further improve and make our products more efficient by providing real time ground feedback. Solabot worked through all the feedback and implemented them on the product and upgraded the product which is successfully implemented on a mass scale in different parts of the country. 2019-20 was a slow year in terms of growth though surprisingly during COVID which is FY 2020-21 we did multifold business with our customers. COVID provided a pause to the industry and we could reap benefits from our contacts and communications which we built over 2017/18/19 and accelerated our reach to Customers, who could think clearly and order Robots for trials and for mass implementation during Pandemic itself. We have a strong pipeline ahead of us and are securing large volumes which are making us market leaders in the Robotic cleaning space within the country. Additionally, we are setting up another manufacturing unit to cater to the demand and this gives us a lot of confidence to move to other geographies. Some companies approached us from Middle East, US and are willing to Invest or become a partner with us in specific geographies to market and deliver Solabot Robotic solutions.

7. Impact of Robotic solutions and IoT in Solar Power Industry?

Dust remains a significant challenge for the solar industry at the operation and maintenance level, as dust accumulation on panels can significantly reduce the power production of those panels. As such, dust deposition is a critical challenge that will impact the economic viability of solar power in many regions if the deposition is not mitigated. Some international research papers report that the prospective market size of Robotic cleaning by 2026 would cross 1 Bn USD. As the demand is increasing for the implementation of Dry robotic cleaning, existing customers who were heavily relying on Wet cleaning are slowly moving towards Dry cleaning.

Dry cleaning helps daily cleaning of modules and customers want to see trials of the same on their projects to assess the overall impact of dust on the Solar modules and the generation gain and ultimate revenue projections from the PV plant. The timing is correct as over some time Solar panel degrades and implementation of dry robotic cleaning not only covers that loss by cleaning the modules but also provides an additional gain in generation ultimately leading to increased revenue generation.

8. Lastly, what are the major trends you see catapulting and dominating the clean energy industry in the coming time?

In our opinion we are foreseeing future trends will still be renewable energy and majorly focusing on Solar power which could be pure Grid-connected systems and going forward with Energy Storage as 24hours power is something which we require to manage with the Grid network to be independent and slowly away from Fossil fuels. Larger modules, more and more floating solar projects is another big shift which we are seeing is coming in play as land scarcity and permitting issues allows Developers to install projects in comparable less area in terms of covering module wattage with large modules. Robotic cleaning has picked up the pace and I am sure more thrust from GOI and bids following trends of using Dry cleaning will help developers remain more competitive while bidding considering generation gains continuously, they will achieve from such projects. This will further allow them to reduce tariffs and become more and more competitive all the time.

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Aishwarya Saxena

A book geek, with creative mind, an electronics degree, and zealous for writing.Creativity is the one thing in her opinion which drove her to enter into editing field. Allured towards south Indian cuisine and culture, love to discover new cultures and their customs. Relishes in discovering new music genres.

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