Automated, robotic dry-cleaning of solar panels in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia using a silicone rubber brush

Brian Jonathan Parrott, Pablo Carrasco Zanini, Ali Shehri, Konstantinos Kotsovos, Issam Gereige

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


The challenge of mitigating power loss in solar photovoltaic (PV) systems—due to dust—is critical to the economical deployment of solar in arid regions. These areas suffer from high aerosol concentration levels and frequent sand storms that lead to an accumulation of a layer of dust on the surface of solar arrays. The dust stays in place due to only slight and occasional rain fall. This paper presents the results from a study conducted on the effectiveness of dry cleaning solar panels, using an automated robotic cleaning system. The robotic cleaning system is part of a research program related to robotic dust mitigation technologies for solar panels, and includes a new type of brush, which uses silicone rubber foam flaps mounted onto an aluminum core. The study found that the robotic system, using this silicone rubber foam brush, was able to effectively minimize the impact of dust on the solar panels’ power output, providing an increase in power output versus the weekly-cleaned controls. This new brush shows promise for use in solar panel dust mitigation due to its effective cleaning performance and low cost, and does not induce any damage to the surface of the solar panels.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)526-533
Number of pages8
StatePublished - Jul 5 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2022-06-07
Acknowledgements: The team would like to acknowledge a variety of people who offered technical support and advice as well as the facilities to run our tests. We would like to thank Saudi Aramco’s Renewable Energy research team, headed by Dr. Ahmed Saggaf, for their support in giving us advice on measuring solar performance and for sharing their expertise in solar power generation. We would also like to thank Saudi Aramco’s New & Renewable Energy Technology Division, headed by Peter Durante, for their sponsorship of the project and support. Finally, we would like to thank KAUST’s New Energy Oasis team for the utilization of their testing facility during our field trials. Funding for this project was provided by Saudi Aramco’s Research and Development Center, as part of a research project to develop robotic dust mitigation technology for cleaning solar panels, to reduce the impact of dust on solar power generation.
This publication acknowledges KAUST support, but has no KAUST affiliated authors.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


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