Spotlight on Konstantin Kastanis, Co-founder and CEO of Solbotix
07 Apr 2022
  •  Please describe your role at Solbotix and your expertise in the sector?

I am the co-founder and CEO of Solbotix with 15+ years of solar industry experience. I also hold the position of the Managing Director of ELVAN, one of the largest European cable tray and support system manufacturers. A Mechanical Engineer by training and have studied energy systems and strategies that have greatly helped my business endeavours flourish.


  •  How did your story in solar begin and how much has it changed since then, if at all? Any particular story or reason you would like to share about joining this field?

My story begins in 2006 when I took over ELVAN, the family business, and turned it into a major European manufacturer that produces fixed PV structures, PV trackers, waterless robotic cleaning systems, cable trays, and lightning protection material. At this point, solar business prospects look bright, there are new ways to improve products and services, and more opportunities to make a sustainable impact come up. In reality, one of the main reasons I joined the field was to support renewable alternatives to producing energy to build a more sustainable world. So, I feel that my solar story will keep on unfolding as the industry evolves.


  •  What is a unique selling proposition about the products provided by Solbotix? When do we expect to see Solbotix products in action?

Solbotix has been built by a founding team with over 40 years in the energy sector, a deep understanding of the solar industry, and a wide network of stakeholders. The first generation of Solbotix is a truly innovative robotic solution that addresses a significant present and future need of the solar industry, the need for frequent, waterless, unattended cleaning for utility-scale solar projects in arid areas.

In addition to cleaning, Solbotix will offer plug-in options, services, and tools to adapt to future emerging requirements as the industry grows. For example, our system can integrate 3rd party tools such as thermal cameras for in-situ inspection of solar panels or soiling sensors for soil audits to help optimize installation layout, as well as weather data collection and forecasting through data-driven systems and AI to optimize cleaning frequency. Our AI solutions aim to facilitate industry professionals like solar developers, consultants, on-site technicians, control room operators, and specialist designers by integrating seamlessly and simplifying their work.

Regarding its debut in solar parks, our product is in the trial phase and is getting polished with rich incoming from pilot studies and user feedback from our extensive solar network. Stay tuned for the next Solbotix steps!


  •  Are the robotic cleaning services a must-have aspect of solar projects at this time? What is the most crucial benefit of robotic cleaning over manual cleaning?

Robotics is the answer to many current or future problems in the solar industry. Especially in the case of solar parks in arid areas, cleaning thousands of glass surfaces manually is far from ideal since people have to work under harsh weather conditions, there is a high risk of solar panel damage, and in the end, the cleaning process is ineffective, expensive and time-consuming. In addition to this, even though mechanically assisted cleaning may cover more ground than manual labour, it is equally inadequate and difficult to deploy.

So, robotic cleaning has leverage over traditional cleaning methods because robotic systems are meticulous, efficient, and accompanied by various features that ensure consistent cleanliness, and increased solar yield while safeguarding smooth and uneventful solar energy production.


  •  What are your thoughts on this statement “Rapid robotic cleaning harms the solar panel’s lifespan as the protective layer starts to wear out after a while”?

Solar panels should be handled with care. Therefore, the rapid aspect of robotic cleaning is not a measure of success by itself. At Solbotix, we firmly believe that the applied pressure and force on solar panels, the brushes, and cleaning patterns should be studied, tested, and meticulously measured to protect them and elongate their lifespan. Only then the combinedly controlled speed and pressure with which robotic systems conduct the cleaning sessions can be considered a major advantage that increases effectiveness and efficiency.


  •  What could you tell us about your sector and company’s growth opportunities in the region?

We foresee the sector of utility-scale PV to have exponential growth and grow 10x within the next 10 years. More specifically, by 2030, the utility PV segment will go from 200 projects to more than 2,000 new projects, from 20 GWp installed capacity to more than 200 GWp new capacity, and from 100 mil m² equivalent PV panels glass surface to clean to more than 1.2 bn new m².