Robotic Cleaning Represents Only 1-2% Of overall Capex, But Can Be Decisive: Amit Singla, Ecoppia India

Highlights :

  • Some of the firm’s clients from India include NTPC, Azure Power, Sprng Energy, ReNew. It has also lent services to India’s Bhadla Solar Park Project.
Robotic Cleaning Represents Only 1-2% Of overall Capex, But Can Be Decisive: Amit Singla, Ecoppia India Amit Singla, VP, Ecoppia India

Israeli firm Ecoppia offers AI, data-driven robotic solar panel cleaning solutions. It claims to have deployed 3,900 MW of projects, over 10.5 mn autonomous cleaning sessions and cleaned over 9.24 bn solar panels. The firm, which has a global presence, is expanding operations in India. Some of the firm’s clients from India include NTPC, Azure Power, Sprng Energy, ReNew. It has also lent services to India’s Bhadla Solar Park Project. Amit Singla, VP Ecoppia India, tells Saur Energy International about the firm’s projects and the robotic cleaning industry. 

How was 2022 for Ecoppia globally? What are you expecting from 2023?

Amit Singla

Amit Singla, VP, Ecoppia India

Ecoppia has deployed over 35 large-scale projects globally, and with nearly 4 GW of deployed projects, we plan to continue expanding to new regions by providing customized solutions that meet local markets’ needs. In 2023, we continue to focus on constant improvement of our products, as well as collaborations with industry leaders to optimize our offerings for IPPS and tailor solutions to the specific sites or even rows within a site. For instance, at one of SECI’s sites in India developed by Azure Power, we recently installed a combination of our full product portfolio, including E4, T4, and H4, to cater to the site needs and increase the cost efficiency to the maximum.

SECI tracker

Ecoppia H4 Robotic Cleaning Soln on Single Axis Tracker

We have recently announced our new recent agreements signed with Engie and Matrix Renewables. One is for a 181.25 MWac project in Chile with Engie, and the other is for expanding into four new projects in Spain and Chile with Matrix Renewables. Through these agreements, we continue expanding our footprint in the renewable energy market and reflect our commitment to provide state-of-the-art service.

What is the business spread over international markets and what is your local presence in India?

Ecoppia currently operates on four continents with installations in the Middle East, Latin America, the United States, and Asia. All our robots are produced in a cutting-edge assembly line in Mohali, India, supporting the country’s “Make in India” initiative. The facility was able to maintain full production during COVID-19 lockdowns, providing over 150 direct jobs and supporting an additional 500+ indirect jobs. We are proud to remain highly responsive to the needs of the Indian market, thanks to a robust local supply chain and a team of more than 80 engineers based in India.

Where do you see the market headed in India?

The power sector in India has shown significant growth with advancements in technology and capacity additions over the past 15 years. Looking forward, the market is expected to focus on renewable sources and integrate them with digital technologies. This shift will enable the country to move towards a more distributed power generation and electricity service model, providing better-quality service to consumers. Advanced technologies such as robotic cleaning and high-performance solar panels will also play a vital role in the growth of the Indian solar market, along tracking mounting systems that are becoming increasingly popular among developers that are looking to optimize land use efficiency and increase energy output. Ecoppia’s solutions are designed to be compatible with all leading tracker companies, ensuring maximum flexibility for smooth operations.

What is the typical robotic cleaning testing, certifications, and post-sale services? In terms of warranties, support etc?

Ecoppia has a dedicated 3,000 square meter validation centre for extensive testing purposes. This validation and testing process applies not only to the entire product, but also to firmware, individual components such as motors, wheels, microfibers, and batteries. The performance of the robot is evaluated from various aspects, including its impact on the modules, coating, structure, and connections between neighbouring structures.

Ecoppia’s products are designed to last for over 25 years, and the company offers a comprehensive annual maintenance contract that includes both preventive and corrective maintenance. We work with top tier-1 vendors and rigorously test our solutions for durability in harsh conditions, such as extreme weather and dust storms. We ensure that our products can withstand stress and destruction tests and undergo extensive testing to guarantee the longevity and quality of our solutions. It is important to mention that across 4,000 MW and nearly 10 years of operations, Ecoppia has demonstrated the highest availability rate in the market exceeding 99%, achieved by a combination of reliable components, smart design, and predictive maintenance capabilities.

With many projects now being installed on uneven terrain, what kinds of difficulties are being faced by robotic systems?

As solar projects increasingly occupy uneven terrains, robotic cleaning systems are facing a range of difficulties, and due to low tariffs and tight margins, ground leveling is not always feasible, resulting in more projects being installed on undulating land. Consequently, robotic solutions must display greater maneuverability, able to navigate steep slopes while ensuring that the panels and structure remain undamaged. Mounting structure quality has been compromised over time, and with ground shifting and misaligned tables and panels, it’s much more difficult for robotic systems to function efficiently. Ecoppia took these challenges into account when designing its new H4 solution, incorporating features such as speed adjustment, row scanning, and other advancements to ensure excellent maneuverability while keeping the panels and structure safe.

Where do you see the solar sector headed in the coming decade?

There is a significant shift occurring in companies as they integrate new technologies and accelerate the adoption of the information revolution. Automation, which started as a hybrid solution of automation and human intervention, is rapidly becoming the new normal. This trend is occurring on much larger scales across multiple regions, with increasing diversity in the number of players in each project and higher complexity in terms of technology and infrastructure. Predictive algorithms help guide real-time actions in the most efficient and cost-effective way. Ecoppia serves as a central hub for multiple technologies, collecting and analyzing data to provide insights and actionable items as we truly believe that adopting and opting new technologies is the way to minimize risk but also maximize return per unit of risk.

What is Ecoppia’s differentiator in the market today? What sort of ROI can a client expect with robotic cleaning?

Ecoppia sees the Indian market’s vast potential and has developed smart solutions like the Ecoppia H4 to address the challenges of the local market. We offer a true partnership to our clients by providing data-driven insights and customized solutions, as we help our clients achieve their energy production goals while maximizing their profitability. Our focus on safety, high quality cleaning, and state-of-the-art service, has helped us establish a strong presence in the Indian solar market in the past 7 years and have positioned us for continued growth and success.

Ecoppia is offering a 25-years partnership to IPPs, focusing on providing superb service. While a robotic cleaning solution represent only 1-2% of the overall sites’ Capex, the importance of choosing the right vendor is critical, as sub performing technology may eventually not be able to effectively and reliably clean for 25 years, or even create a damage that can cause to a significant loss of revenue. The lifetime value of the robotic solution chosen, should consider spare parts, labour, and other factors that are required for the site maintenance, while taking into consideration their high availability and performance, as well as minimal risks to the site itself. The new H4 offers a faster ROI of 2-6 years, with minimal infrastructure requirements and quick deployment. It is designed to provide a holistic solution for even the most challenging solar sites while remaining completely safe for the panels and structure, alongside effective, swift, and smart cleaning.

Please shed light on your partnerships.

Ecoppia provides a lifetime value that is beyond the initial Capex, as its solutions optimize the overall cost spent on parts and maintenance over the system’s lifespan of 25 years. By providing a true partnership with our clients, we ensure that smart O&M is in place to maximize the system’s efficiency and productivity. With so many options available for the local market in India, the importance of selecting a reliable partner in order to avoid potential risks, ensures long-term value and top performance. The increasing demand for our advanced robotic solutions is evident through our recent agreements with Engie and Matrix Renewables and reflects our commitment to providing top service. Through these partnerships with industry leaders, we aim to offer a comprehensive solution to the solar industry’s O&M challenges, ensuring maximum performance and longevity of solar assets.

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