Automated Cleaning

Solar Panel Soiling


Utility-scale solar plants are well suited for places with strong sunlight and large areas of land that are covered neither by farms nor forest. However, solar panel soiling from wind-driven dust can be a major issue in these places. In semi-arid locations such as the San Joaquin Valley, in California, USA, unaddressed seasonal soiling can be severe enough to significantly degrade a project’s rate of return. In dusty arid places like Saudi Arabia or Rajasthan, India, year-round soiling conditions can make solar projects unviable unless regular solar panel cleaning is employed.


Alion Energy’s SPOT Panel Cleaning System


Alion Energy has developed a robotic solar plant cleaning solution to make effective, frequent panel cleaning fit into a project’s tight Operations and Maintenance budget. The racking and vehicle system have been designed together to elegantly leverage automation in a cost-effective way.


Alion Energy's SPOT Cleaning System

  • The racking’s concrete ballast serves as a track for the vehicle. The vehicle neither drives dust into the air from driving on the ground nor puts weight on the panels or racking structure.
  • The robotic vehicle operates autonomously while cleaning a solar panel row and carries its own water, ensuring high quality, repeatable cleaning results with very low labor usage.
  • The vehicle moves from row to row, keeping robot count to a minimum. This reduces costs substantially, increases equipment flexibility, and reduces maintenance tasks versus solutions with one robot per row.


SPOT Cleaning Vehicle Components


The patent-pending SPOT Cleaning Vehicle is a track-based driving robot with a cleaning head, a water tank, a propulsion and energy system, and a control system. The cleaning head draws water from a water tank to deposit water on the solar panels and uses a spinning brush and a wiper to clean the panels. Alternatively, a dry-cleaning mode can be employed under certain soiling conditions to conserve water. The vehicle is driven by electric motors connected to the wheels. The vehicle is self-powered; a solar panel charges a battery system to provide power for the motors.


Components of the SPOT Cleaning System


The Most Power from PV

Alion Energy provides the best tracker, kept clean to deliver the most energy and ballasted to perform in the most challenging sites.

Maximize Energy Yield

Reflective, ballasted foundations, paired with automated cleaning solutions, plus a durable, high wind capable tracker design, improve energy yield and protect against performance loss.

Lowest Solar LCOE

Alion Energy builds local, utility scale projects faster and for lower cost, while producing more energy yield than standard pv tracker projects. Generate higher returns with the lowest cost of power in the industry.