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)
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
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).
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.
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...
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 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?
Researchers have been working on a number of alternative chemistries to lithium-ion for next-gen batteries, silicon-air among them. However, while the technology has been viewed as promising and cost-effective, to date researchers haven’t managed to develop a battery of this chemistry with a viable running time -- until now.
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