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Drone Solar Panel Inspection

Drone solar Panel Inspection

Over the last decade, the market for photovoltaic systems has grown tremendously. In Germany alone, about 1.5 million photovoltaic systems were installed at the end of 2014. Considering the necessary maintenance of such a high number of modules, there is a need for efficient quality assessment tools.

It is the surveillance of solar panels, which is of high importance to guarantee a disturbance-free operation of the modules, which is the basic requirement for efficient electricity generation, long period of operation and fast amortisation of the assets.

Drone Solar Panel Inspection Hot SpotThe use of thermal imaging cameras provides several advantages: the most important are for example: anomalies can be seen very clearly on a thermal image and – in contrast to other methods – thermal imaging cameras can be used to monitor solar modules, while they are mounted and operating.

VALUE OF DRONES FOR SOLAR FARM INSPECTIONS

Rapid and Easy scans for Roof tops and arrays
Hot spot identification showing defective cells / Geotagged image
Diagnostic purpose / planning of Panel placement
Infrared signatures show defective panels
Keep the solar farm running at peak efficiency
Save time with pre-selected way point aerial inspections

ABOUT THE SOLAR INDUSTRY

Continuous growth of the solar industry brings an ever-expanding base of solar installations. Quality assurance is of fundamental importance for solar panels as they are expected to provide a life of 20 years. The failure-free operation of the panels is a prerequisite for efficient power generation, long life, and a high return on investment. This is often not the case with myriad of solar panel manufacturers supplying products of varying quality. Over time, solar panels may develop defects which can be easily fixed if detected in time, but can cause a severe drop in energy production and in some cases even start a fire if left unchecked.

SOLAR CELLS DEGRADE DUE TO UNAVOIDABLE CIRCUMSTANCES

    • UV exposure
    • Thermal cycling
    • Damp heat
    • Humidity freeze
    • Solar panels degrade about 0.5% to 3% each year
    • SOLAR PANEL ARRAY INSPECTIONS

      Cells become negatively biased and instead of producing electrical energy they produce heat energy due to:

    • Cell failure
    • Interconnection failure
    • Melting of solder
    • Degradation of the solar cell
    • Decrease of operational efficiency
    • Potential problem areas can be detected and repaired

OUR DRONE THERMAL IMAGING SERVICES

To ensure a failure-free operation, a mechanism needs to be in place which is fast, simple and reliable to evaluate. Hence more and more solar panel installers work with Drome Imagery’ experienced thermographers; we offer regular thermal imaging inspections to ensure the safety and effective deployment of solar systems.

WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF THERMAL IMAGING?

Anomalies can clearly be seen on a high resolution thermal image, they cannot be seen with a naked eye
Drones with a thermal camera can scan installed solar panels during normal operation
Scan large areas with short time frame
Potential problem areas can be detected and repaired
Geo tagging – localize faulty modules easily in large areas, e.g., in solar farms and relate the thermal images to the equipment, e.g., in reports.

EFFICIENCIES OF DRONES IN SOLAR FARM INSPECTIONS

Utilizing UAS will typically reduce cost of inspections by approximately 30-50%
Speed of inspection time is greatly improved
Safety of personnel is improved as there is less need for personnel to ascend to height for inspections in the case of elevated arrays.

AVOID COSTLY MISTAKES

A single malfunctioning cell can compromise the entire system causing economic damage
Effective maintenance of the system is required to obtain the best possible performance and better return on investment.


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