HERZELIYA, Israel, March 24, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Ecoppia, an innovative developer of autonomous water-free photovoltaic solar panel cleaning solutions, announced today that the Ketura Sun solar park in Israel's Negev desert, jointly owned by Siemens AG and solar energy pioneer Arava Power, is now the world's first autonomously-cleaned solar energy production facility. The 8-hectare facility, producing 9 million kilowatt hours per year, is cleaned nightly by a fleet of almost 100 water-free, energy-independent Ecoppia E4 robots.
Soiling – the accumulation of dirt and dust on photovoltaic solar panel surfaces – is one of the greatest impediments to solar energy production, and can reduce panel energy output by up to 35%. Located in the hot southern stretch of Israel's Negev desert, between the Gulf of Aqaba and the southern tip of the Dead Sea, Ketura Sun suffers from frequent sand storms and virtually no rain. Due to the expense of traditional, labor-intensive, water-based cleaning, Ketura Sun's solar panels were only cleaned some nine times a year. This manual panel cleaning would take up to five days, during which time the field operated sub-optimally and work crews endangered sensitive equipment. In the interim between cleaning cycles, the park suffered significant electricity production degradation due to soiling.
Following a successful pilot, during which Ecoppia's solution effectively removed 99% of panel dust daily, E4 robots were deployed over the entire Ketura Sun field in less than three months. Today, nearly 100 centrally-controlled E4 robots clean the entire field every night, ensuring maximum production efficiency during sunlight hours.
Cost effective and efficient, energy-independent E4 cleaning robots use a soft microfiber and air flow cleaning system to remove 99% of dust daily, applying zero load on the panel surface, keeping panels at optimal production 24/7/365. Utilizing a robust control unit and sensors that drive the robotic system along each solar panel row, E4 is fully remotely managed, monitored and controlled.
"We conducted a thorough worldwide search for a cleaning solution that could deal with the challenging weather conditions in our solar parks," said Jon Cohen, CEO at Arava Power. "Only Ecoppia's solution showed actual significant uplift in production, while offering an extremely appealing business model. We are proud to be their partners," he concluded.
"Ecoppia has changed the way we run the Ketura Sun field," added Yanir Aloush, VP Operations at Arava Power. "Less guesswork about when to clean, less downtime since there's no need for on-site cleaning crews, less external personnel on the ground – we are very excited by the potential upgrade Ecoppia's solution offers us."
"We're pleased to facilitate this important first step towards effectively growing solar park energy output," said Eran Meller, CEO of Ecoppia. "With E4, Ketura Sun maximizes its energy generation, without the expense and negative ecological impact of water-based cleaning solutions," he continued.
Ecoppia is dedicated to maximizing solar park value creation, by increasing output and lowering production overhead costs. The company's autonomous, water-free, field-proven solar array cleaning solution cost-effectively keeps photovoltaic panels at peak performance, even in the toughest desert conditions. Privately-held, Ecoppia is backed by experienced investment funds and led by energy and robotics experts, with broad and multidisciplinary experience and proven records of success in operations, management, engineering and product development. For more information about Ecoppia please visit www.ecoppia.com.
About Arava Power
Arava Power is Israel's leading solar developer and a pioneer in mid-size and large-size solar fields. Founded in 2006, Arava power currently has seven solar parks in production or development across Israel's Negev desert, with a total production capacity of 80 MW. In 2009, Siemens AG acquired a 40% stake in Arava Power. For more information about Arava Power, please visit www.aravapower.com.