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Robotic Solar Panels Produce More Electricity
9/17/2012

The QBotix Tracking System uses a monorail system of robots to tilt solar panels toward the sun as it moves throughout the day, replacing tracking systems that are complex and expensive to install and maintain.   (Source: QBotix)
The QBotix Tracking System uses a monorail system of robots to tilt solar panels toward the sun as it moves throughout the day, replacing tracking systems that are complex and expensive to install and maintain.
(Source: QBotix)

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catfish
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Iron
poor picture
catfish   9/18/2012 9:52:27 AM
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This picture may not represent the article well.  Look at where the shadows are vs. the direction of the panels.  I am all for Solar but there are too many magical mirrors and fuzzy government math claims to convince me it is even close to being economical.  Why doesn't someone print the actual facts and figures?

ttemple
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Re: I think you missed the point
ttemple   9/18/2012 6:53:48 AM
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I presume that a 300kw "farm" would cover possibly acres of area, which would make a single movement impractical.  If there were both pan and tilt adjustments it would be more impractical.

Mydesign
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Re: I think you missed the point
Mydesign   9/17/2012 11:50:05 PM
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Ttemple, instead of doing the rotation to individual panel, I would like to suggest another method. Fix all the solar panel in a single structure and by using a powerful motor they can rotate the entire structure in a single move. The power for motor rotation can be generated from solar panel itself.

Mydesign
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Panel rotation in synchronize with position of sun
Mydesign   9/17/2012 11:45:19 PM
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Elizabeth, I had seen a similar system in a solar farm. Al the panel structure is attached to a small motor, which will rotate the entire panel structure in synchronize with the position of sun. This will help to fall the sun rays directly over the panel and hence a better efficiency.

ProcadSoftware
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Iron
Procad Software!
ProcadSoftware   9/17/2012 7:56:52 PM
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Charles Murray
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Re: I think you missed the point
Charles Murray   9/17/2012 4:59:14 PM
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Thanks, ttemple. I was unsure why this was better than existing tracking systems until I read your explanation. I'd really like to see a comparison, in terms of power consumed and cost, of this system versus conventional tracking.

ttemple
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I think you missed the point
ttemple   9/17/2012 3:25:19 PM
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I think the point here is to not have motors on each pan/tilt axis of the panels.  You drive the robot to the panel and make the adjustment, so there are no motors on the panels.  This reduces the number of motors and drives in the system to no more than 3 - one to move the robot from panel to panel, and two to adjust the pan/tilt axes.  A clever mechical design could probably get it done with a single motor and some clutches.

The robot moves the motors to the solar panels, makes the adjustment(s) on that panel, moves to the next panel, makes the adjustments, etc.  That is why it takes 40 minutes to do the adjustments on a 300kw installation - it is a round-robin affair.  It can only get to each panel so often.

I think this is a pretty clever idea.

Jack Rupert, PE
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Platinum
Re: Large-scale commercial installations prime target
Jack Rupert, PE   9/17/2012 12:15:44 PM
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I would be interested in seeing a comparison of the costs of a robotic system vs. the cost of individual panels.  Since regardless of the type of installation you implement, you still need space, I'm wondering if as the panels become a commodity it would be cheaper to jsut add additional panels rather than trying to relocate them over a robotic track?

akwaman
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Gold
Re: Large-scale commercial installations prime target
akwaman   9/17/2012 10:31:20 AM
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I would think this would be most cost effective on newly installed systems.  I would be interested to know how this would work retrofitting existing installations.  A 15% increase in output of panels would add a substantial amount of power to even residential systems.  To reduce the number of panels needed by 15% may make, even residential systems, more viable.  I would be concerned with the security of this system in adverse weather conditions, like how much wind could this system handle?

Beth Stackpole
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Blogger
Large-scale commercial installations prime target
Beth Stackpole   9/17/2012 7:08:56 AM
Looks like a pretty compelling use case, particularly for large-scale, commercial implementations where there are hundreds of solar panels. Not sure the cost incurred with a robotic-based system can hold up to smaller or even residential installations, though.

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