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QBotix Receives $1M From DoE to Advance Robotic Solar-Panel Technology
12/28/2012

Energy Department Funds Development of Solar-Panel Robots: The QBotix tracking system, shown here, is a robotic system for tilting solar panels toward the sun that can increase the output of the panels by up to 15 percent. The Menlo Park, Calif.-based company received a $1 million grant by the Department of Energy to advance its technology, funds it will use for future demonstrations and to add support for concentrated photovoltaics to the system, a company spokesman said.   (Source: QBotix)
Energy Department Funds Development of Solar-Panel Robots: The QBotix tracking system, shown here, is a robotic system for tilting solar panels toward the sun that can increase the output of the panels by up to 15 percent. The Menlo Park, Calif.-based company received a $1 million grant by the Department of Energy to advance its technology, funds it will use for future demonstrations and to add support for concentrated photovoltaics to the system, a company spokesman said.
(Source: QBotix)

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Greg M. Jung
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Return on DoE Investment
Greg M. Jung   12/28/2012 9:35:04 PM
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For the amount of money invested into this technology, it seems that the expected deliverables from this company will be:

"reducing the electricity requirement of the system by 20 percent while increasing the output of the panels by up to 15 percent"

It would be good to see the DoE follow up  after 6-12 months to make sure that these deliverables are on-track and that this investment into this solar technology will pay off and come to fruition.

NadineJ
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Re: Return on DoE Investment
NadineJ   12/30/2012 9:09:56 PM
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That's a good point about the expected deliverables.  But, I think ROI will take more than 6-12 months.  The US gov't doesn't historically get a quick return on investment.  It would be interesting to look at how the development not only helps Qbotix but all solar companies.

More details from Qbotix on youtube:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hKiDeEL0leY

Will a million dollars go very far though?

jmiller
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Re: Return on DoE Investment
jmiller   12/31/2012 11:17:07 AM
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I agree I would like to see a follow up later.  However, I have never really known the government to follow up and make sure our tax dollars were spent wisely.

GTOlover
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Re: Return on DoE Investment
GTOlover   1/2/2013 4:18:50 PM
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The government (politicians specifically) do have a measure of how wisely money is spent. It is called re-election. We keep re-electing the same crooks and expect them to spend our tax money wisely???

I am always a skeptic, but if this company can build and prove working prototypes then they are worthy of a little research grant money. But the market should determine the cost effectiveness of their technology and not government mandates (or political donations).

robatnorcross
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Re: Return on DoE Investment
robatnorcross   1/2/2013 4:33:35 PM
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Gee, I hate to  throw a cloud over this BUT solar trackers have been available for YEARS. Check out an issue of HOME POWER magazine and you'll see a number of trackers FOR SALE NOW!

I wonder which politicians son-in-law this company belongs to?

GTOlover
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Re: Return on DoE Investment
GTOlover   1/2/2013 4:34:58 PM
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Amen!

robatnorcross
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Re: Return on DoE Investment
robatnorcross   1/2/2013 4:34:00 PM
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Gee, I hate to  throw a cloud over this BUT solar trackers have been available for YEARS. Check out an issue of HOME POWER magazine and you'll see a number of trackers FOR SALE NOW!

I wonder which politicians son-in-law this company belongs to?

Elizabeth M
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Re: Return on DoE Investment
Elizabeth M   1/2/2013 5:47:01 AM
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Thanks for your comment, Greg. I agree, there should be some sort of barometer to ensure QBotix and other companies and organizations that have received these grants deliver on what they promise to advance alternative forms of energy.

Nancy Golden
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Finding a Balance
Nancy Golden   12/30/2012 12:52:03 AM
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Very interesting - it must be hard to find the balance between energy used tracking the sun and the optimum tracking interval for energy gained tracking the sun.

jmiller
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Re: Finding a Balance
jmiller   12/31/2012 11:18:49 AM
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I suppose it would also depend on the amount of cloud cover, the time of year, the amount of daylight available.  Several different complex variables for a complex system.

Nancy Golden
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Re: Finding a Balance
Nancy Golden   12/31/2012 11:35:38 AM
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Good points, jmiller - there are several variables to consider. Not only could the system optimize tracking with energy efficiency, I could also envision an automated protective cover for extreme weather protection (hail) and a system that could remove debris accumulation - perhaps some type of blower or rake - I wonder if that is on those systems...

Radwan
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Iron
Re: Finding a Balance
Radwan   1/2/2013 10:38:00 AM
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Hi

Every body....... where did you think can we get it.....i spent a lot time serching

for a city i did not find it.... What did you think

 

Thank You

Radwan
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Iron
Re: Finding a Balance
Radwan   1/2/2013 10:38:01 AM
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Hi

Every body....... where did you think can we get it.....i spent a lot time serching

for a city i did not find it.... What did you think

 

Thank You

Radwan
User Rank
Iron
Re: Finding a Balance
Radwan   1/2/2013 10:38:02 AM
NO RATINGS
Hi

Every body....... where did you think can we get it.....i spent a lot time serching

for a city i did not find it.... What did you think

 

Thank You

irishmuse
User Rank
Silver
a 2 pronged approach
irishmuse   1/2/2013 5:09:24 PM
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Yep,  they are going to make Solar competetive all right.  Wasting money on stuff like this, and then piling taxes on everything else until parity is acheived.

 

apresher
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Blogger
Cost Versus Value
apresher   1/7/2013 1:25:05 PM
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With the latest solar article I did for Design News, it is absolutely clear from the leading suppliers I interviewed that a key design goal is driving cost out of these systems.  In many cases given the size of typical larger installations, tracking systems are being applied to a row of panels to drive down costs. Even off-the-shelf PLCs (which should offer a low cost control) are often viewed as too expensive compared to custom controls that offer a specific solution (even if it's not true given development and engineering costs).  It's very hard to understand how this robotic approach has much of a chance to further enhance system performance compared to existing tracking solutions.

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