The amount of energy a solar panel produces is directly proportional to the amount of incident sunlight. Since the position of the sun in the sky changes about 10 degrees in every 40 minutes, solar panels don’t produce the same output at each time during the day. To counter the issue, solar farm developers have started using single axis sun tracking systems that alter the position of the solar panel according to the position of the sun in the sky. However, these sun tracking systems aren’t mostly efficient and also consume a lot of energy. A California based startup, Qbotix, has now come up with a robot that does the job efficiently without consuming a lot of energy in the process.
Christened the Solbot, the robot is designed to run on a track positioned alongside solar panels, where a magnet allows it to locate each station. As it approaches a solar panel, it attaches itself to it and alters its position towards the sun throughout the course of the day, thereby increasing the power output by up to 40 percent. The robot, which is powered by a lithium-ion battery, performs dual-axis adjustments at a reduced cost and energy expenditure. Each robot can monitor about 200 panels in the 40 minute time frame, which according to the company can be increased if a large solar farm has to be monitored.
While one of the robot is doing its job, a back-up robot is charging in a docking station, so that the process can continue even if the battery of one robot depletes. The Solbot also collects data on the performance of these units and relays data back to the owner of the solar farm.