In the desert country like Jordan, there is plenty of sunshine around the year. Many foreign investors, including the Finns, are also interested in the solar energy market in Jordan. But local conditions require local solutions.
Monther Fadel has reason to smile. He is the other founder of company named DARB which just has won the first prize in the Jordanian Abd-Alhameed Shooman Innovation Award.
-We gathered information on the efficiency of solar panels and we realized that up to 40 percent of the power is lost because of dust and sand. Cleaning in Europe is not a big problem, but in the Middle East solar panels require washing every 5 to 10 days.
-The washing of solar panels has traditionally required a lot of manpower. They are usually washed with water hose and brush. Another option is to drive a truck on which the brushes are attached. But both of these actions cause a lot of damage. Solar panels are very sensitive and get easily microscopically tiny cracks. Then the panel goes off without even being noticed. Solar panels could last for 25 years old, but traditional washing will destroy them in 4-5 years, explains Fadel.
DARB is a startup company that has received Shamal Start project funding from the European Union. The other donor is the communication company Orange.
Monther Fadel can now proudly present fully automated solar panel washers. The machine moves back and forth on the panels. It gets everything it needs from the wire which moves along with the machine. It does not need to be downloaded, but it can work 24 hours a day.
“The washing technology is so sensitive that it does not hurt the panels at all, and we also got a certificate for that,” Fadel tells proudly.
The automated machine will save you more than just a manpower. The computer counts the amount of water needed by the machine, no drops are lost. Jordan is one of the driest countries in the world, so all water-saving technologies will be needed.
When it comes to Jordan, we talk about enormous solar panel surfaces. One of the most famous solar park Sams Ma’an is located in southern Jordan, with 800,000 solar panels. One panel size is 1-2 square meters. To wash that amount every 5-10 days, it really takes a lot of work hours and of course water.
Monther Fadel explains in detail the water consumption: To produce one MWp (Mega Watt peak), 3500 panels are needed. And their traditional washing requires 6-7 cubic meters of water and up to 1-2 days of working time. DARB’s automated technology makes everything in two hours and uses only 1 cube of water. Water thus saves 80% / 1 MWp compared to the old method.
-For 25 years, the cost of solar energy is reduced by up to 50 percent, Fadel summarizes.
The company uses the prize money to build a factory line and hire engineers. Within two years, the device is intended to be on the Jordanian market and after five years in the MENA region, the Middle East and North Africa.
TEXT: LAURA PALOVUORI
PHOTOS: MONTHER FADEL