How do we solve a problem like dusty solar panels?
As more and more solar farms crop up in more and more paddocks and dirt patches around the nation – and with solar panel cleaning currently mandatory on solar farms – a couple of South Australian entrepreneurs have put their heads together, and come up with a solution. And it’s a tricked-up tractor called Sheila.
Conceived by Australian Solar Maintenance (ASM) co-founders Paul Rosato and Justin Hargreaves-Ward, the machine – which was put together in Adelaide by Kubpower Summertown and Kubpower Gepps Cross – essentially comprises a Kubota B3150 tractor, fitted with a robotic arm that acts as a cleaning brush.
According to the ASM team, the tractor’s rotating brush head can reach 300 to 400 revolutions per minute, while the water delivery jets enable extensive solar panel saturation.
Mark Bickford, Kubpower Summertown equipment sales manager said Kubpower was still fixing some minor tweaks, but that a fully operational machine was likely to be unveiled shortly.
“When we first started developing ‘Sheila’, we had considered a number of potential vehicles and other tractors,” said ASM’s Rosato. “We ultimately identified the Kubota B3150 as the most versatile, agile and capable vehicle, which could be easily adapted to incorporate our requirements.”