Israeli robotic solar panel cleaning business Ecoppia is laying the ground for global expansion and increased data capabilities following its recent initial public offering (IPO) on the Tel Aviv stock exchange.
Ecoppia launched an IPO after securing more than US$82.5 million through a public tender phase at the end of 2020, with investors valuing the company at US$300 million. This is on top of an investment from US investor CIM Group, which acquired US$40 million of shares in Ecoppia, and with US$20 million of investment ploughed directly into the company.
CEO Jean Scemama told PV Tech in January that the company is readying itself for expansion into “new geographies”, and developing a more intelligent form of data collection that would turn its cleaning robots into module performance analysts. It already has upwards of 16GW of solar PV panels in its client portfolio, and a significant presence in India, where it oversees 2GW of operational solar and has contracts for 8GW poised for future development.
Last week (25 February), the robotic cleaning specialist secured its first contract in Egypt, covering O&M for the BenBan solar park in the southern city of Aswan, which has a total capacity of 1,650MWp.
The project will utilise Ecoppia’s T4 robots, which are designed for single axis trackers. The autonomous machine can leverage integral sensors to independently travel to neighbouring trackers over dedicated bridges.
The robots Ecoppia use already collect a small amount of data on the energy generation plants in its client portfolio, and they are all managed by a cloud-based solar panel cleaning solution, something Scemama believes gives the company a competitive advantage for this specific ambition.
“The system is already quite smart,” he says, but there is more value to be found in creating a system that makes a judgement call on the data it gathers. As he puts it, the next stage of the business’ growth is “a data play more than purely robotic”.
Scemama told PV Tech in January Ecoppia expects to be able to offer something to the market in this vein in the next 12-18 months. He did not rule out acquiring a company with more expertise on data analysis, either.
“Adding on analysing the data we already gather from the system and providing alerts and insight for the site owners is the next stage. The more data we’re going to have, the more precise the prediction will be. We therefore plan on adding multiple additional sensors on the site, including drones. Eventually our aim is to recommend to the site owner: ‘in this block and in this row, in this panel, you have an issue. Our recommendation is to replace it and this is your ROI’. That’s a significant value we plan on bringing to our customers.”