Image of the Day: "Sheila" the solar panel cleaner | RenewEconomy

Image of the Day: “Sheila” the solar panel cleaner

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How do you solve a problem like dusty solar panels? Two SA entrepreneurs and a tractor company have created a solution.

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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.”

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29 Comments
  1. mick 2 years ago

    infomercial for kubota which is a reasonable one albeit wanting a look at the slide idler at sub-3kph applications

    • Mark Bicko 2 years ago

      So it seems mick but just a lazy jurno.this photo is taken at kubpower where we are building this machine for asm. We have designed and built the whole machine its hydrostatic and has cruise control so 3kph is no problem.

      • mick 2 years ago

        well it looks like a good idea also id imagine you could disengage the cruise control while still having idle so that would be a winner as well will they tow a water tank?

        • Mark Bicko 2 years ago

          Yes you can disengage the cruise control and idle. It has a 300L tank on the 3PL with a RO unit on it and it also will tow another 2500L tank.
          It should be almost finished next week and we can start to test it. As you can see it has been runnig but we had some final modifcations to make which is normal when you build something like this from scratch. It’s looking really good and is cleaning the test panels to asm’s specifications.

      • Sophie Vorrath 2 years ago

        sorry you feel that way Mark. Could also be a busy journo on a busy website trying to cover all that’s going on in an extremely busy sector. But point taken.

        • Barri Mundee 2 years ago

          I’m with you Sophie. Its newsworthy and relevant.

        • Mark Bicko 2 years ago

          Nothing personal Sophie however it has nothing to do with Kubota Australia and was built here in Adelaide. Not blaming you but there has been some misinformation published and it keeps getting copied.

          • Sophie Vorrath 2 years ago

            Mark, I have updated the article to say where and by whom it was built. Always happy to make corrections/clarifications.

          • Mark Bicko 2 years ago

            Thanks Sophie

        • Mark Bicko 2 years ago

          Also might I add Sophie prior to this article I read Renew economy regularly and find it very informative.

        • daw 2 years ago

          Unlike Mark, Sophie, I don’t come here all that often. Mainly because it is not a moderated site and thus attracts all sorts of lewd, offensive and scurrilous comments which I find tiresome after reading a few.
          It has the potential to put the renewable energy arguments forth in a more scientific and technical approach but most articles fall short of the mark.
          Whilst wind and solar energy are plausible concepts they have a long road of development ahead of them before they can be relied upon for reliable 24/7 generation. Essential for today’s societies.
          Don’t get me wrong the concepts are plausible as is the one form of ‘renewable’ generation that I backed and lost ooo’s on – Hot Fractured Rock Geothermal. Had that not struck some sort of technical snag that stopped the development we could all be enjoying it’s benefits.
          Meantime I’m off to other more technically oriented sites

          • Alastair Leith 2 years ago

            “lewd, offensive and scurrilous comments which I find tiresome after reading a few”
            Been reading since it’s inception and I’d have to say that is pretty rare compared to many news forums, including Renewables forums like CleanTechnica etc

          • Barri Mundee 2 years ago

            “Meantime I’m off to other more technically oriented sites”

            Such as…..?

            Lewd, scurrilous? Most commenters are respectful out of a wish to engage and debate with those who disagree. Problem is many have limited patience who trot out lines such as yours about solar and wind with zero evidence or reasoning to back them up.

      • Carl Raymond S 2 years ago

        When will the all electric model be ready?

  2. Paul Surguy 2 years ago

    Every solar farm would need 2 per farm Great idea guys

    • Mark Bicko 2 years ago

      Some are looking at up to 4.

      • daw 2 years ago

        Absolute catastrophe! What are you saying? 4 FF tractors/ installation

        • Mark Bicko 2 years ago

          Pardon my ignorance what is FF?

          • daw 2 years ago

            Fossil Fuelled.
            Sorry Mark I hate the plethora of acronyms abounding now too.
            Reminds me of the claim that they should cease.
            When should they cease? ASAP

    • daw 2 years ago

      Heavens to betsy NOT 2 FF tractors

      • Steven Gannon 2 years ago

        Thank God there’s only one troll.

  3. Ren Stimpy 2 years ago

    Can Sheila reach in through the kitchen window and wash the dishes too?

    • Mark Bicko 2 years ago

      We are aiming to do this with the MK2 model. lol

      • daw 2 years ago

        Oh NO Not a FF tractor!! We’ll all be rooned with extra CO2 sarc/off

        • Barri Mundee 2 years ago

          There you go trolling again, in its purest form.

  4. Joe 2 years ago

    Humans should be doing the job…more jobs to add to Two Tonguers 1million new jobs?

  5. Alastair Leith 2 years ago

    I note the use of water. Did you look at waterless cleaning options? What’s the water consumption like, what kind of chemicals are you using to clean with (presumably they fall onto the soil or do you suck them up?)

    Aren’t the heliostat cleaning robots SolarReserve and others using waterless? Sorry that’s my memory I could be wrong but I thought they used microfibres or something, because they have them operation all year round to optimise reflectivity of the mirror.

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