Energy: Sicily


GTI Awards 2019 – Energy

Safety Cover Hydro Pv, Sicily

General information:

Island (Region, Province, Country):
Sicily, Palermo (Italy)

5,057 milion (2017)

Budget / cost of the project:
€ 500.000


Project objectives:

Photovoltaic cells turn light into electricity and are an important alternative to fossil fuels. However, maintenance of solar panels is often neglected and the consequences can be grave: water infiltration can lead to oxidation and short-circuits; accumulated dirt (dust, leaves, bird droppings, etc.) increases the fire hazard while decreasing a panel’s efficiency; and mini-breakages can cause lead, chromium and other dangerous materials to leak out. The dangers of maintenance neglect are exacerbated by the fact that parts of the solar panel systems cannot be shut off and have continuous current.


Project description of activities and specific interventions:

Safety Cover Hydro PV ® is an patented intelligent self-controlled protective additional device for solar panels. It includes an IoT system, which consists on AI control elements based on deep learning frameworks, and a controlled screen which cleans the solar panel covers it and allows its electric disconnection to avoid fires. The IoT system consists of an integrated system of sensors and artificial vision (AV) technologies which remotely controls the screen’s activation. It is the first solution in the market to tackle all these problems. We will sell Safety Cover Hydro PV ® B2B, targeting solar panel producers as our potential clients to whom we will license the Safety Cover Hydro PV ® technology. Safety Environmental Engineering is a spin-off of the Accademico Università degli Studi di Palermo. Our team is small and research-focused. We are working in London for the Global Start up Program of the MISE and Italian Trade Agency.


Public outreach, education and awareness efforts and results:

In Australia, the Clean Energy Council, an industry association representing Australia’s clean energy sector, found that of 4,140 small-scale solar systems, 822 (= almost 20% of them) did not meet the legal requirements. This means they can fail prematurely. Furthermore, 2% of solar power systems inspected were deemed unsafe, often because water had entered electrical components .
Incorrect maintenance is often how it starts. People do not acknowledge the various dangers of neglecting the maintenance of solar panels.


Economic value added and how calculated:

Safety Cover Hydro PV ® will be distributed among solar panel producers. By offering a product that combines safety and maintenance, our solution will add value to their brand name and services, and by extending the lifespan of panels it will help them cut costs from the disposal of decommissioned units and comply with EU legislation.
Users will be commercial communities and factories. Our marketing campaigns will emphasise the convenience of Safety Cover Hydro PV ® in arrays of PV panels to be installed on rooftops, which are usually hard for firefighters and maintenance crew to reach and operate.


Ecological and social project outcomes:

The system has several advantages: less maintenance work, more safety, less energy lost and an increased lifespan of up to 10 years . Essentially, it is a darkening screen that protects the solar cells from accumulating dirt, keeping them clean and lowering the chance of a fire, and if a fire does break out, it regulates the voltage that runs through the photovoltaic cells. Safety Cover Hydro PV ® allows the photovoltaic apparatus both to maintain an almost constant energy production in time and to increase the duration of the solar panels at least of a 50% of the actual duration. Furthermore the use of Safety Cover Hydro PV ® device presents several connected advantages: more safety conditions for workers, less probability of panel’s damage and of panel’s fire, easy and automatic panel’s maintenance in different operating conditions (i.e. in the presence both of snow and of sand and of dirty).