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Alameda County Solar Power Plant Deploys QBotix Robotic Tracking System

QBotix, which harnesses the power of the robotics for the solar industry, is proud to announce that a solar power plant employing its QBotix Tracking System (QTS) is complete and has begun to generate power.

The 48 kilowatt solar power plant is located at Alameda County Santa Rita Jail in Dublin, California. The power plant contains 32 QBotix trackers and single SolBot, a robot created by the company that angles solar panels toward the sun to increase energy production by more than 30%. The QTS-based power plant at Santa Rita will generate approximately 120,000 kilowatt hours of electricity a year. Signal Energy served as the Engineering, Procurement and Construction contractor on the project.

Construction of the entire plant took less than four working days. Wiring and commissioning took two additional working days.

"We are incredibly gratified with the results of our work with Signal Energy and Alameda County," said Wasiq Bokhari, CEO and founder of QBotix. "Solar demand continues to grow worldwide, but we need to reduce the cost so that solar power can compete against fossil fuels without subsidies. By increasing power production while simultaneously reducing the per-kilowatt 'balance of system' installed costs, we're able to help the industry move toward that goal."

"Signal Energy has designed and built utility-scale, ground-mounted solar projects across North America and QBotix is one of the most innovative systems we have seen," said Ben Fischer, President of Signal Energy, a leading renewable energy EPC contractor. "Signal Energy is committed to building our country's clean energy future. Working with innovative technology, like QTS, has the potential to lower the cost of solar energy even further."

Santa Rita jail is California's third largest detention facility and it consumes more energy than any other county government building. The solar power plant is part of a long-range plan to reduce peak power and energy consumption. QBotix has been delivering commercial power to the grid with a QTS-based set of solar arrays from its Menlo Park facility for over a year; the Santa Rita project is the first operational system owned by a third party.

"We were delighted to work with QBotix to deploy their sophisticated solar tracking system at our facility," said Matt Muniz, Energy Program Manager for the County of Alameda. "The combination of higher production, reliability and system intelligence enables us to reduce our peak power demand. We believe the QBotix installation at Santa Rita Jail is a showcase for municipal energy responsibility."

Other QTS initiatives are underway. Last month, Trina Solar announced that its U.S. subsidiary, Trina Solar U.S. development Company LLC, will collaborate on commercial projects both in and outside the United States and develop a scalable 'building block' design based on QTS for commercial project developers. Technology from QBotix is also being deployed in Arizona, Japan and other parts of California.

QTS is a comprehensive dual-axis tracking system that employs rugged, intelligent, mobile robots that aim solar modules toward the sun and adjust their position throughout the day to maximize energy output. A single SolBot can control 300 kW of solar panels with high accuracy and reliability. Popular Science selected the system as one of top six innovations in its list of "Best of What's New" list for green technology for 2012.

Through the use of its robotic approach, QTS eliminates hundreds of stationary motors as well as substantial amount of steel and concrete required in traditional solar power plants. The system comes pre-assembled, resulting in fast installation and commissioning, and works with all industry-standard solar panels, foundations, electrical and data systems. So-called balance of systems expenses now account for 68 percent of the cost of solar installations, according to a recent report from GTM Research.

A QTS-based power plant with dual-axis tracking will generate approximately 15 percent more electricity than a power plant built with conventional single-axis trackers, but cost the same to build, giving QBotix customers dual-axis performance at single-axis pricing. A QTS-based power plant will produce up to 40 percent more electricity than a plant built with fixed-mount systems and lower the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) by up to 20 percent per kilowatt hour.

The intelligence and communication capabilities embedded in each autonomous robot also optimize power plant performance and provide detailed operational knowledge at an unprecedented level.

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