Global warming is increasing at an alarming rate, with non-renewable energy sources to blame. They emit excessive amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere, yet the world continues to use them over renewables. With solar energy specifically, the cost and labor that comes with solar panel installation are what drive people away from using this resource. To optimize energy absorption, dust and debris must be removed from solar panels, as this is what makes them less reliable. Research at Duke University and IIT concluded that cleaning solar panels increases their efficiency by 50%, however, consistent maintenance requires great effort and expenses (Kingery 2017). Minimizing maintenance costs would increase solar panel efficiency and ultimately make them a more appealing energy source. To make this possible, a new method of solar panel cleaning is required. Our proposed solution is a robotic cleaning system that runs when a decrease in performance is detected. This system has a hardware component (the robot) and a software component (the program). These components work together to regularly and efficiently clean a solar panel’s surface in residential homes.

Full poster: SolarShinePoster