Utility Solar Panel Cleaning & Maintenance
Utility Scale Module Washing
Shine Up Solar was born in the residential market, but soon grew to take on huge sites. We manage sites that are almost 2,000 acres and have over 3,000,000 modules on one site! This takes experience to do it right and stay in business. Many have tried and failed. We have developed the systems necessary to complete these large sites under budget and on time. To be honest we had to fail first too in order to succeed. However, we are persistent and use our creativity to invent a solution. These large sites take coordination of up to a dozen teams of 4 people. Each team with a truck, gator, or ATV equipped with a water tank, pump, hoses and brushes. We use large water trucks to truck in water and keep the individual crews filled. Water is the most important key to these jobs. If you know where water is that is a big help for us in doing our preliminary pricing. If water is not available because of drought, distance or costs then we can dust the modules. Dusting takes about the same time in some cases and can be a better spend per dollar. Dusting doesn’t get the panels quite as clean as water (about 2-8% less as effective), but if water costs 20-30% more it may be worth it. We typically see costs increase for water at 2-10 cents per module on large utility sites. If it gets up in the 8-10 cent range it may be better to dust.
As the industry matures and more sites are built we will be here to service them. Please do not hesitate to call us for a quote. We prefer to do site visits to give an accurate quote. Start the process today by sending us an inquiry and your single line drawings of the site so we can evaluate it for free.
Utility Scale and Commercial Mowing
This cottage industry was discovered by necessity. We noticed a problem when we would show up to clean a site and would not be able to walk up and down the rows because of knee to thigh high grass. This is unsafe because of gopher and other rodent holes that are hidden. There is also a real danger of rattle snakes, of which our techs have reported hundreds of sightings over the years, but they wear steal toed boots and thick jeans for protection, and knock on wood we have not had any bite incidents. Sites not only need to be cut for safety, but for efficiency. It is very exhausting to walk in vegetation after it gets over knee high and can be impossible once it gets over ones waist. We have seen sites that are over your head and were 6 feet tall or higher. Most utility scale sites are on ground mounted trackers. This means they face the rising sun in the east in the morning and proceed to follow the sun’s path through the sky. They are flat at noon when the sun is directly over head and tip west to say good night to their friend and then tilt back to stow at night to sleep and prevent damage from winds. If the weeds are so high that they block the sun from hitting the modules in the morning for the first few hours of production and the last few hours of production in the evening it adds up to big losses in money for our customers. There are also larger concerns for fire safety and prevention. These areas that have large ground mounted utility scale sites are also very arid. It would be a shame for a brush fire to destroy millions and millions of dollars of investment, and future energy production. When you think about Central California the first thing you think of is “Bread Basket” of the world. It gets a ton of sun and has very fertile land. Some farmers have been converting their land over to the green revolution. However, once you turn this fertile soil to lay wires in trenches 24 inches down and dig up deep foundations for posts you expose virgin soil for all the pesky weeds to explode! Some of that soil has not seen the light of day for decades and is like a gold mine for arrant seeds. Call us today to quote your site. We clear all with in the fence line, under the modules and can do a 6 foot perimeter around your fence line if needed. We have many mowers, tractors, bobcats, billy goats, brush cats, brush hogs, and weed whackers at your disposal. Vegetation clearing now accounts for almost half of our revenue annually.
Different Solar Panel Mounts require unique cleaning methods
They are typically commercial installations and are found at schools, shopping centers, hospitals and anywhere that has large parking lots. In the next decade you will be hard pressed to find a parking lot without a carport solar shade structure. They can range from small like 60 modules to a large one like an airport with 10,000.
They are elevated stands that the solar array sets on. They provide shade and protection for cars from the elements. They are great for lighting parking lots at night to increase safety and security. They also make great use of the previously unused space by creating a lot of electricity. The difficulty is cleaning them! There are always conflicts with cars parking under the array, accessing them at high heights, long pole runs out to the middle of the array, and water access issues all create for a huge headache that many companies have just given up on all together trying to clean them. We are the best at cleaning carports! We do most of our work on nights and weekends. We use 4 wheel drive gas powered scissor lifts and our own patent pending brush technology. We are able to be very competitive in our pricing because of our experience and creativity.
They are typically out in the middle of nowhere. They need lots of cheap land and sun exposure. The large ones that are over 10 (MW) Mega Watts or (30-40,000 panels) are utility scale. Some commercial entities have them too and they are typically a few thousand panels. They are typically under a MW, but some can get very large. Not as large as utility, but we have seen sites that are 20,000 panels or about 6-12 MW. The challenges with these sites is a reliable water source to clean the panels with, so dusting is becoming more and more popular. The next issue is that they are so far from population centers and only need to be cleaned one or two times a year that it is hard to fill a crew to do the work. Many ground mount installations will have robots cleaning them in the years to come. It is costly to do now, but one day that will be how all the large installations are cleaned.
This is the type of solar most people think about when they hear solar. However, there are only so many roofs. Don’t get me wrong there are still a lot of roofs out there that do not have solar, but one day I believe they all will. My guess is in the next 20 years it will be hard to find a roof without it. These are typically the most diverse types of arrays. They are all made differently and this is the thing that makes them difficult. Water and labor are typically easy to find you don’t need expensive equipment, and they are on flat roofs so they are safe and simple.