Construction is a big business in the U.S., coming it at around $715 billion for 2017. Right now, we are in the very beginning stages of automating the construction industry. Computers do almost all of the design work but hardly any of the physical work. That seems likely to change in the very near future.
Automation happens in stages across all industries, usually taking menial and repetitive tasks at first before moving onto more complex ones. Installing solar panels is an incredibly simple (relatively speaking) task that needs to be replicated thousands or tens of thousands of times even for small scale solar facilities.
The act of mounting the panels and putting them into place is the most physically demanding part of the job at the construction site. Since the same act needs to be repeated so many times, it becomes simple to see how a construction robot could move down each row, install a panel, move a few feet to install the new one, rinse and repeat. We are already seeing this happen with brick-laying robots.
Robotic technology has come a long way in the last decade, within the next 30 years, robotic construction workers will probably be commonplace at large job sites. They will probably still work in conjunction with humans, but on a much bigger scale than they do now. Renewable energy plants are unique in the sense that there are hardly ever humans working around either the panels or the turbines, making it far more likely that governments and insurance companies will feel comfortable about the majority of these renewable plants being built without much in the way of human intervention.
As the technology becomes more affordable, you’re going to start to see wide-scale use first by large construction companies, who realize the benefit being able to replace dozens of workers with a robot that can work nearly 24/7. The amount of money budgeted for labor and insurance will drop significantly, leading to lower bids for projects, making it economical to start building renewable plants on a widespread-level.
By 2045, the world is going to be drawing about double its current energy consumption. Many countries have already pledged to steer their energy industries towards renewables as opposed to fossil fuels. As the need for energy increases, power plants are going to be going up left and right, as they are currently doing. Leading the charge on the construction front will probably be robots capable of doing just about everything themselves.