Can Solar Robots Cut The Cost of Renewable Energy?

By Todd Woody, Forbes:

In a corner of a Silicon Valley neighborhood of modest tract homes, robots are quietly at work generating electricity.

Behind a high fence a robot glides on a monorail around 20 solar panel arrays attached to steel poles, like WALL-E on a Disneyland ride. (See video below.) The robot, made by Menlo Park, Calif., startup QBotix, stops at each array and an arm pops out and mechanically adjusts the angle of the photovoltaic panels to track the sun through the day and the seasons to maximize electricity production.

Such dual-axis systems can boost a solar power plant’s electricity production by as much as 45% but they are expensive as each individual array must contain a motor and other mechanical parts. By eliminating individual trackers and letting one battery-powered robot do the job for 200 panel arrays, QBotix claims it can cut costs by 15% while increasing electricity generation by 15%. That would let a solar developer install Qbotix’s dual-tracking robotic system for the same cost as a simpler single-axis tracking system that produces less electricity… Read more


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