Leading advanced robotic systems provider Sarcos Technology and Robotics Corporation today announced it has completed the final validation of its Outdoor Autonomous Manipulation of Photovoltaic Panels (O-AMPP) project. During the field trial, Sarcos collaborated with leading companies involved in the renewable energy industry, including Mortenson, JLG Industries, Array Technologies and Pratt Miller, to achieve this critical milestone at a Mortenson project site, which validated the Sarcos robotic solar field construction solution.
"Achieving this market validation and field test milestone is a mission-critical step on our path to commercializing our robotic solar field construction solution and, ultimately, enhancing safety and productivity in the solar field construction industry," said Kiva Allgood, President and CEO of Sarcos.
According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), annual solar installations must increase by 60% between now and 2030 to meet the Biden administration's target for solar to reach 30% of U.S. electricity generation by 2030. SEIA estimates that the industry requires a workforce expansion of nearly 900,000 new workers to meet this goal.
Given current labor shortages (about 230,000 workers were employed in the U.S. solar industry in 2020) and the high labor intensity of solar installation processes, the solar field construction market calls for urgent and innovative solutions to lessen the limitations to satisfy the increasing demand for solar. Robotic technology is expected to play a crucial role in addressing the issues and accelerating solar deployment.
"We believe the O-AMPP system can address these challenges while improving safety, productivity, and efficiency for our workers. It will also enable solar project developers to scale output and production to the levels needed to achieve the Energy Department's 2030 and 2050 renewable energy goals. We are excited about the possibilities and potential impact of the O-AMPP system in solar construction," said Trent Mostaert, Vice President of Industrialization at Mortenson.
The O-AMPP project, which began in 2021 with funding support from the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO), aims to streamline the process of solar field construction into one harmonized robotic system to deliver, detect, lift and place PV modules in the field. The benefits for energy companies implementing the system for solar construction include lower soft costs for projects, the ability to engage in more projects simultaneously, improved construction timelines and quality, and a safer worksite that reduces the risk of injuries, including lifting and fatigue-related injuries.
During the validation of this system, a proof-of-concept O-AMPP system consisting of an Autonomous Working Vehicle (AWV) featuring the Guardian® XM robotic system and an Autonomous Delivery Vehicle (ADV) was used to optimize the flow of PV modules from delivery to installation.
Sarcos expects to commercially launch its robotic solar field construction solution in 2024.