Chilean startup could increase solar panel efficiency with a fleet of robots

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Chilean startup Osoji Solar travelled to Lima at the beginning of December as a member of the Seedstars LATAM Summit, which brought innovative minds and startups together in order to help create solutions to the issues facing the world today.

Osoji Solar is a robotics startup that has created a fleet of robots which clean the dust off solar panels. The company likens their little mechanical creations to a colony of ants, as they seamlessly work together to guarantee solar-panel efficiency despite adverse conditions and dust storms.

Dust accumulation is a constant problem for photovoltaic panels, as most of the ideal environments with high solar radiation – both in Chile and across the world – are accompanied by an extremely dusty environment. When the dust settles on the panels it can reduce efficiency by 50%, complicating Chile’s plans to have over 60% of its energy deriving from renewable sources by 2025.

With Osoji Solar’s creations, however, this transition could even be sped up. The little mechanical helpers also clean without using up valuable resources such as water and have been designed to function without the intervention of expensive labour to oversee it.

German Bravo, one of the founders of the project, explained that Chile’s Atacama desert, which gets huge amounts of solar energy, is also one of the most hostile environments on earth. Why should humans work there, in the blistering heat and drought-ridden land, when robots can do it more efficiently?

Although they didn’t win the Seedstars Chile competition – that title went to QuePlan, a health-cover startup – the judges were so impressed with their idea that they invited them to the Latam Summit in Lima. The summit was organised to find ways in which the South American region can help reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the UN, many of which focus on combating issues such as climate change and the overuse of fossil fuels and other pollutants.

“During the last six months, we have made Latin America our home,” Juliane Butty, Regional Director of Seedstars LATAM told InfoWeek. “We started an interesting trip throughout 12 startup ecosystems in the region, not only searching for the best technological startups, but also working directly with them and with other creators who are passionate about this ecosystem.”

Chile is a pioneer in the world when it comes to solar energy. The northern part of the country has huge radiation potential, and in recent years the government have created policies that have resulted in the construction of 13.3GW’s worth of solar projects, enough to power over 6.5 million homes.

After increased exposure at the high-profile Seedstars LATAM event that took place from December 4-6, Osoji Solar hopes to have made important connections that will allow them to upscale their product, making solar energy more efficient for Chile and the globe.