The output of solar panels can be increased by removing dirt from the panel surfaces using a cleaning robot. Companies and research institutes in Japan and abroad are developing such robots. J.E.T, based in Miyazaki City, started the rental of cleaning robots and cleaning services (Fig. 1).
The company was established in May 2000 and is financed by Hirofumi Shibata, chairman of building maintenance company Daiichi Building Maintenance in Miyazaki City. The company started to focus on solar panel cleaning and began operations in 2014, taking advantage of the knowhow it obtained from the building cleaning business.
The technologies and knowhow for "cleaning every corner precisely," "efficient cleaning," "limiting water use to a minimum" and "securing water at any location" are incorporated in solar panel cleaning. The cleaning robot was developed jointly with a domestic robot company.
The cleaning robot developed by the company is set on a rail installed on the solar panels. The robot moves on the solar panels guided by the rail and cleans the panels with brushes while spraying water on them.
The rail is attached to two wheels that are in contact with the upper frame of the panels in the uppermost array (row of solar panels) (Fig. 2). The wheels move in a transverse (east/west) direction along the panel frames of the uppermost array.