QBotix Receives $1M From DoE to Advance Robotic Solar-Panel Technology
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)
The company recently was awarded another $12-million in funding, this time from European energy giants EON and Iberdrola for implementation of the QBotix system in Spain, Latin America and the UK. My question is what did they do with the original funding?
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.
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).
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George Leopold's talk at last week's Design & Manufacturing Minneapolis helped restore astronaut and engineer Gus Grissom's role in the beginnings of NASA, and outlined how Grissom played a pivotal role in winning the Space Race.
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