Tuesday, October 21, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Solar panels to shine, thanks to Davis company

greenboticsW

The CleanFleet robot, a propriety technology of Davis-based Greenbotics, washes a row of dusty solar panels at a SunPower Oasis solar power plant in Yolo County. Courtesy photo

By
From page A11 | November 24, 2013 |

A solution for cleaning solar panels — developed by a Davis-based engineering team, Greenbotics — is now under the umbrella of one of the country’s leading solar panel providers.

Greenbotics was acquired by SunPower on Nov. 4, two years after it was founded by three engineers: Marc Grossman, Cedric Jeanty and Kyle Cobb. Together, they developed a robot — dubbed CleanFleet — for automated and efficient cleaning of solar panels on a large scale.

Being the country’s second-largest manufacturer of solar energy equipment, SunPower found good use for the CleanFleet machine. The Bay Area-based company intends to use the robots for an expected increase in annual energy production of up to 15 percent at its customers’ solar power plants.

“(The acquisition) was motivated by the experience that we’ve had with our large-scale systems throughout the state,” said SunPower CEO Tom Werner. “We were seeking a more cost-effective solution for our customers.”

Cleaning a solar panel can make a big difference in its performance, he explained, especially when SunPower’s CEO speaks in terms of square miles when it comes to large utility-scale solar panel farms.

And, he adds, the large swath of panels that his company develops may need cleaning two or three times a year. Dirt and dust that build up on the ground-mounted systems can significant lower a solar panel’s efficiency.

That’s especially pertinent in certain desert-like environments, such as states in America’s West, the Middle East or Chile, just a few of the places where SunPower is installing systems.

The conventional method of cleaning solar panels is to hose them down with pressure washers and sprayer trucks. The solution Greenbotics found, using its CleanFleet, requires less than half a cup of water per panel. This amounts to 90 percent less than the normal techniques.

SunPower began employing the local technology earlier this year, and found it to be half the cost of its prior cleaning processes. Besides that, Werner claims the robots got the job done in less time.

“We had empirical data that it worked,” Werner said. “They’re one of the few companies that had a working solution. That caused us to think about making an acquisition, so that we could have the technology ourselves.”

The exact terms of SunPower’s acquisition of Greenbotics, which is headquartered in an office at 235 Seventh St. in Davis, were not disclosed.

Grossman, Jeanty and Cobb — Greenbotics’ founders — have over the years recruited the help of three other engineers for the development of their robot, including a UC Davis graduate.

As to whether the Greenbotics team and its local facility might see an expansion post-acquisition, that’s something Werner said is still unclear at this time.

“We have sites all over the world, so just scaling to the level we need probably will require some growth,” he said. “We think there’s other applications for the team, other things that they can do with the core technology.”

One thing Werner did make clear is that the Greenbotics engineers would remain rooted in Davis, where they want to be.

“They love Davis, and didn’t want to leave,” he said. “We’re in Richmond, so really only about an hour’s drive apart. We’re able to leave a great entrepreneurial team where they’re comfortable.”

— Reach Brett Johnson at bjohnson@davisenterprise.net or 530-747-8052. Follow him on Twitter at @ReporterBrett

Comments

comments

.

News

Suspected arson fires worry neighbors, firefighters

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Winters homicide case enters jury-selection phase

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1

 
So much more than a cute baby store

By Bob Schultz | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Fill the Boot for the hungry

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

 
Existing home sales rise in September

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

For the record

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

 
Democrats love seeing minimum wage on the ballot

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Pets of the week

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2 | Gallery

 
Tax tips offered for sole proprietors

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Apply now for community mediation training

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Paws for Thought: Pets for Vets: matches made in heaven

By Evelyn Dale | From Page: A3 | Gallery

‘Tokyo Kill’ author will visit bookstore

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

 
Sierra Club gathers for morning walks

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

DPNS has play group, preschool openings

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Yolo Knitters Guild plans fall meetings

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Local farm products found at hospital market

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
First-time home buyers get free advice

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Psychiatric clinic hosts open house

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Beer dinner set on Co-op patio

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Walkin’ the Dawg through the park

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
 
Essay contest winners will be honored Tuesday

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

Volunteers sought to make veggie bags

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Library hosts after-hours teen movie nights

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Forum eyes impacts of raising the local minimum wage

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

 
NAMI-Yolo family support group meets Sunday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

To save the birds, look to the fish

By Kat Kerlin | From Page: A7 | Gallery

 
Birding field trip planned Saturday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A12 | Gallery

.

Forum

Ready to go, whatever happens

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
Where there’s a will …

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

These three are the best

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
Sunder has bold vision

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

Archer, Nolan are my picks

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
She’s innovative, passionate

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

An accidental fan becomes a baseball devotee

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

 
U.N. steps up to lead Ebola response

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

John Cole cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A8

 
.

Sports

UCD’s Wegener is the engine that drives the train

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Villegas wonderstrike powers Devils

By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

DHS golfers take the title

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

 
Devil defense regresses in football loss

By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1

Sports briefs: Top-end tennis talent helps DHS girls grab a win

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Junior Blue Devils: Regular slate ends with 2 Davis teams playoff bound

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

After running the gridiron gauntlet, can UCD regroup?

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
.

Features

.

Arts

 
Stories on Stage Davis presents tales by Lescroart, Montieth

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11 | Gallery

 
.

Business

.

Obituaries

Peggy Belenis Swisher

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Comics: Tuesday, October 21, 2014 (set 1)

By Creator | From Page: B5

 
Comics: Tuesday, October 21, 2014 (set 2)

By Creator | From Page: B7