Are solar panels mounted flat on the ground the future of the industry? What benefits do they offer

All large solar farms have the panels mounted at an angle on metal brackets so that they capture as much solar energy as possible in the middle of the day. One startup comes up with a different approach: it mounts the panels glued to the ground.

Erthos, an Arizona company, makes a system, called Earth Mount Solar PV, that allows panels to be mounted flat on the ground. The first large capacity (over 100 MW) solar farm to use the technology will be built in Texas.

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Conventional farms require over 5 acres of land for every megawatt of capacity. Earth Mount Solar PV requires less than 2.5 acres per megawatt. One acre is 4,047 square feet.

Erthos claims this method cuts the time and investment needed to build the farm in half. What’s more, their system uses 70% less wiring and needs 70% fewer trenches.

At the same time, Erthos says Earth Mount Solar PV even withstands hurricanes. However, only IP68-rated solar panels can be used in these systems.

ERTHBOT, the autonomous robot that cleans solar panels.

Because they lie flat on the ground, the panels can be cleaned with a special robot developed by Erthos, which can even remove the chicken poo. The robots start up at night and each unit can clean 2 MW of capacity daily at a cost of 50 cents/kW.

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In March 2022, the startup attracted a new round of investment worth $17.5 million from Capricorn Investment Group, the financial vehicle that has previously bet on Tesla and SpaceX.

Photo credit: Pexels, Erthos

Also read: What are floating photovoltaic panels and what great advantages they have

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