Robots to the Rescue in the Battle for Affordable Solar

Credit: Reis Robotics

Can robots make a better, more affordable solar panel? Michigan-based silicones giant Dow Corning is betting on it, and has forged a partnership with Reis Robotics of Germany. The two companies say their alliance will result in "breakthrough solar encapsulation technology" to increase the production rate of solar panels and lower the cost per watt of solar power. The manufacturing process involves using liquid silicone-based material to make panels more durable and efficient, say Dow Corning officials, who aren't giving away too many secrets. The encapsulation process protects solar cells in a panel and is an alternative to commonly used ethyl vinyl acetate resin.

The robots will be working on demonstration lines at the Reis facility in Germany and a Dow Corning facility in Korea.

Thankfully, no breakthroughs have been announced in keeping humans out of the picture. People will still be needed to make and maintain the robots. Unless the next announcement is on maintenance robots.

How good is this silicone encapsulant technology? Dow Corning says the process allows panels to last for more than 25 years with little or no electrical degradation.

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