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Robotic Installation Technologies Changing Solar Energy Market
by Staff Writers
Mountain View CA (SPX) Sep 20, 2013

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Based on its recent analysis of the solar energy market, Frost and Sullivan recognizes Alion Energy with the 2013 North American Frost and Sullivan Award for Price Performance Value Leadership. Alion Energy's robotic technologies deliver revolutionary installation and cleaning services at highly competitive prices, making the company the technology supplier of choice for building and maintenance of utility-scale solar plants.

The typical installation process for utility-scale projects is similar to that of a small-scale, 20-panel, residential installation. Despite incremental improvements to the process, a 200,000-panel installation has retained many of the characteristics of a 20-panel installation.

They are both labor-intensive, and require repetitive bolt-tightening and glass-hauling. While these are minor flaws in a 20-panel system, they create significant inefficiencies in 20,000- or 200,000-panel systems.

Alion Energy has plugged the shortcomings of the current installation methods by changing the materials and design used in the mounting structure as well as by automating the installation. By combining robotic installation technology with established construction practices, Alion Energy has built a system twice as fast and 75 percent more labor-efficient that lowers solar electricity's levelized cost of energy (LCOE) to compete with traditional energy sources.

"Alion Energy's disruptive robotic installation technology lowers solar's electricity costs to price points that can compete with other energy sources such as natural gas to provide conventional daytime peak generation," said Frost and Sullivan Research Manager Vishal Sapru.

"Alion Energy's technology gives utilities the flexibility to diversify their generation portfolio and add more solar to their total generation mix."

Alion Energy simplifies operations and maintenance of the plant's systems. Its concrete frames and epoxies minimize corrections to frame and bolt mountings during start-up and system testing, and lower corrosion issues over the life of the project.

Additionally, the company's cleaning robots mitigate the need to manage cleaning crews in the field. Their technology substantially slashes both the investment cost and water usage by about 90 percent in heavy soiling areas such as the Middle East, while improving energy yields.

Alion Energy's technology enables solar to meet the needs of new market segments outside of the traditional solar market as well as better serve the traditional solar utility scale market.

Its non-penetrating technology is perfectly suited for brownfields, landfills, areas susceptible to metal corrosion, as well as coastal areas, due to its ability to withstand hurricane-force winds.

During construction, Alion has on-site superintendents who supervise the work and serve as an on-the-ground staff to meet any service or support needs. Post-construction, the company offers industry-standard workmanship warranties.

"Alion's technology was designed to reduce the need for customer service and post-installation support," noted Vishal Sapru.

"Its concrete frames lower failure rates associated with racking and corrosion, while robotic installation processes improve workmanship and failure rates associated with mounting. In short, its better quality reduces the need for customer service and post-installation support."

Alion Energy has successfully differentiated itself by continuously reinventing and improving its technology, product quality, and product portfolio. The company is working toward developing a strong brand name, increasing market share, developing process automation, and entering into strategic partnerships with major equipment suppliers and engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) companies to guarantee the performance of the entire system.

Each year, Frost and Sullivan presents this award to a company that has developed a product to suit market and client needs. The award lauds the price competitiveness, features, ease of use of the product, as well as the service effectiveness of the recipient company.


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