HBKU’s QEERI Presents Workshop on Robotic Technology for Cleaning Solar Panels


A specialized workshop on “Photovoltaic (PV) robot cleaning” organized by the Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute (QEERI), part of Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU), was attracted over 100 international delegates from academia and industry.
The virtual workshop aimed to share knowledge on the challenges facing the solar PV industry, especially those related to soiling and cleaning.
The workshop highlighted how, despite the abundant potential of solar PV power plants in desert environments, their maximum efficiency is hampered by environmental conditions. The combination of moisture and dust – including dirt and cement if not cleaned regularly – poses a major challenge to PV performance, decreasing the efficiency of solar panels.
In desert regions where water is scarce, automated cleaning robots are widely used to clean solar panels and facades. To advance understanding of the technology, this workshop explored industry adoption, technology trends, module impacts, testing standards, and future research needs.
Dr Veronica Bermudez, Senior Research Director, Energy Center, QEERI, said: “The fact that we had participating delegates from different parts of the world, as far away as California and China, and despite the differences in time zones , is the recognition of the QEERI Workshop as a key platform for global knowledge sharing. Delegates represented PV module and cleaning robot manufacturers, PV project developers and research institutes.
The latest innovations in robotic module cleaning, including economic and practical considerations, were discussed as a way to improve the return on investment of large power plants in desert environments. Experts discussed the next generation of robots for trackers, effective approaches to ensure high cleaning efficiency, standardization efforts including abrasion testing, and optimizing soiling management costs in photovoltaic power plants . The results offered a clear understanding of lessons learned from case studies in Qatar, South Africa and the United States, which can be exported to other solar markets such as Australia and China.
Carla Dawson, co-founder of smart PV cleaning company, Relysym, who presented from the USA, was positive about the event: “The workshop covered the full spectrum of solar panel cleaning topics. and there should be more editions in the future.QEERI has brought together the most knowledgeable and experienced people from research, industry and academia from well-known brands such as Novasource, Nomadd, Eccopia and Repso, to leading academic and research institutions such as Fraunhofer, NREL, etc. It was certainly a great experience.
Dr Marc Vermeersch, Executive Director of QEERI, said: “Knowledge sharing and constant learning are at the heart of a good research team. Individually, we can’t do much, but through collaboration, that is, sharing knowledge and resources, we can work together to address common challenges. The issues facing the photovoltaic industry in arid regions are similar – whether here in Qatar, Arizona or Australia – and bringing together experts to discuss these challenges and how to overcome them is a step collective positive for the photovoltaic sector. We hope to hold more such sessions and continue to help address these challenges.

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