Israeli start-up to clean Indian solar panels with robots for 25 years

The long-term agreement between India’s Avaada Group and Israeli start-up Airtouch Solar is indicative of the growing viability of robotic solar panel dry-cleaning solutions

 Like a big, staticy blanket being dragged across a dusty solar panel like a lint roller. (photo credit: Airtouch Solar)
Like a big, staticy blanket being dragged across a dusty solar panel like a lint roller.
(photo credit: Airtouch Solar)

Amid climate concerns and renewed corporate and governmental sustainability goals, interest in solar energy is rising, leading to the installation of more panels and solar modules. One of the primary hurdles standing in the way of a global solar infrastructure, however, is cleanliness.

When you’ve got a bunch of flat panels in the middle of the desert, how do you keep them clean and dust-free? That question has spawned an entire market of companies developing robotic panel cleaning solutions which is estimated at $11 billion by the year 2025.

Israeli innovators have been hard at work tackling the issue, and already several start-ups focusing on automated and efficient robot-based solar panel cleaning solutions have emerged, promising to optimize solar companies’ current cleaning methods.

Airtouch Solar is one such start-up, which has garnered international interest: Avaada Group, India’s leading energy transition company, has signed a long-term contract with Airtouch Solar for the maintenance of its solar modules using the Israeli company’s robotic cleaning solutions. The 25-year agreement will see the Israeli company paid upward of two million dollars, and will include the supply, installation, testing, commissioning, operation and maintenance of Airtouch’s robotic cleaning systems at Avaada solar farms.  

 Airtouch CEO Tal Laufer (credit: SALLY FARAGE) Airtouch CEO Tal Laufer (credit: SALLY FARAGE)

Airtouch currently has production facilities in both Israel and India, and is expecting to continue expanding into the Indian market. “We continue to expand our activity in India, which is one of fastest growing markets in the world,” said Tal Laufer, Airtouch’s CEO. “The orders we have received from leading developers like Avaada is a testimony to the quality and reliability of Airtouch’s robots.”

 Photovoltaic array at the National Solar Energy Center, Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, in the Negev Desert of Israel. (credit: Wikimedia Commons) Photovoltaic array at the National Solar Energy Center, Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, in the Negev Desert of Israel. (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Using robots to dry-clean solar panels

Airtouch Solar, founded in 2017, uses robots to dry-clean solar panels. In doing so, the company enables solar energy companies to reduce their water usage, saving money and resources (and by extension, the environment, one might suppose).

“Airtouch robotic technology solutions would improve our plant’s operational efficiency by cleaning the dust settled on the solar modules, thereby [reducing] losses.”

Kishon Nair

“Airtouch robotic technology solutions would improve our plant’s operational efficiency by cleaning the dust settled on the solar modules, thereby [reducing] losses,” said Kishor Nair, COO of Avaada Group. “Our association with Airtouch will reinforce our commitment to sustainability by way of saving water in arid zones.”

According to the company, Airtouch’s robots will save companies somewhere between 80k to 100k liters of water per megawatt generated, every year. As well, Airtouch touts its cleaning solution as a much faster way to clean solar panels, which means that ideal, clean-panel solar generation can occur more frequently.

The Indian government has declared a national goal of reaching 500 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity by 2030; and Nair is confident that his company and the industry it represents will be huge benefactors in that campaign.”’Power for all' is the mission of the government and solar power will play a vital role in achieving this mission,” he said. “Avaada Group [will play] a vital role in achieving this target… with Airtouch supporting our efforts for water conservation and better project efficiency.”