The Solar Panel Cleaning Robot


A car that’s well-oiled and serviced runs better, so it’s no surprise that solar panels do their job more efficiently when they’re given the same level of attention. According to studies, it has been proven that dirty glass on solar panels can decrease efficiency by 20–40%.

A team from Taif University (TU), that won the “The Power is Within You” 2020 competition through the ACWA Power initiative in partnership with its training arm, the Higher Institute for Water and Power Technologies (HIWPT), has done ground-breaking work to showcase a prototype solar panel cleaning robot using remote-controlled sensors and electrical mechanisms. This was part of their winning project concept and incubation program that offers an effective solar panel cleaning system.

The machine is equipped with a scrub brush and a wiper, and it also sprinkles water stored in its tank. It travels smoothly and with ease across the entire panel through a powered motor. Likewise, it can be started manually by an operator or through sensors that measure the soiling of the panels. These sensors reduce the cost of unnecessary cleaning.

The machine is designed to be robust and withstand extreme environmental conditions. Its maintenance is quite minimal, and consumables such as brushes, wipers, and batteries can be replaced on the field with minimal effort and time after prolonged use.

In addition, the prototype of the machine was demonstrated at HIWPT Rabigh in the presence of trainees, staff, and instructors, and the device has been found to be a cost-saving and efficient solar panel cleaner and is regarded as an achievement of the TU team and HIWPT in fulfillment of the ACWA Power initiative.