Israeli Maker of Robot Solar-panel Cleaner Sets Sights on IPO

Yoram Gabison
Yoram Gabison
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Solar panels.
Solar panels.Credit: REUTERS
Yoram Gabison
Yoram Gabison

Riding on the stock market’s growing interest in renewable energy companies, the Israeli startup Ecoppia, which makes robots used to remove the dust and dirt that accumulate on large solar panels, is weighing an initial public offering on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange at a company valuation that could reach as much as $500 million.

The IPO would value the company at three times the value it last raised money privately less than two months ago, when it sold a 30% interest to the U.S. company CIM Group for $40 million.

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The robot cleaners developed by Ecoppia prevent what can be a 35% drop in solar panel energy output if they are left uncared for. The robots clean without the use of water or human labor, and have their own solar module to recharge their batteries between uses. Using sensors and big data, its platform independently initiates cleanings based on weather conditions and other parameters. It also develops solutions for processing information collected by the robots, to minimize operating and maintenance costs alongside maximizing revenue.

The price of a single robot capable of maintaining 2,000 square meters of fixed-tilt solar panels or 700 square meters of single-axis tracker installations every day is between $3,000 and $4,000.

Ecoppia has raised $73 million to date and has installed systems at solar fields with a combined generating capacity of 2,500 megawatts. The company said it has deals for another 17,000 megawatts of solar farms, which it estimates will generate revenues of between $200 million and $300 million.

The company derives revenues from robot sales as well as from after-sale services.

The IPO will enable some investors to exit, but its main purpose is to strengthen the company’s balance sheet. As a provider of equipment for big infrastructure projects, Ecoppia has to demonstrate it has the financial strength to last through contracts that can run for 25 years.

The company today employs 40 in Israel and another 100 in India, which accounts for between 80% and 85% of its revenues. Ecoppia was formed in 2013 by the entrepreneurs Moshe and Eran Meller.

Ecoppia had planned to recruit another 100 employees this year, but the coronavirus has delayed the rollout of new solar installations. Despite that, it still managed to signed agreements with solar operators with a combined 10,000 megawatts of capacity.

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