Aerodrome Drone

How Drones Can Be Used In The Solar Panel Industry

Why are so many people turning to drones and what is their efficiency when it comes to photovoltaic systems? There are several factors at play here other than the reduction of costs and time as well as power generation.

Faults detected using Aerial Thermal Imaging

According to the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), there are 3 major classifications of faults that can be spotted via aerial thermal imaging deployed by drones. These are:

  • Module faults, which individual hot spots on cells coating and diode failures, shattered and dirty modules, tagging and junction box heating.
  • Strings and System faults, which involve issues such as reversed polarity or damaged electrical cords; charge controller problems; and failed inverters and fuses.
  • Racking and Balance of System, which include major problems with how the modules are assembled.

Drones are necessary when it comes to locating vegetation management, poor drainage, and soil erosion underneath the racking.

Benefits associated with drones

Following a report issued by the Electronic Power Research Institute, there are 6 main factors that pivot towards the favourable use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) for solar photovoltaic operations and maintenance tools.

  1. Saving Time and Labour Efficiency- UAVs have the ability to select tasks, such as Photovoltaic inspections more quickly and less costly than the usual methods. Scale economies do, in fact, affect the financial means of deploying UAVs instead of opting for more traditional approaches.
  2. Flexible Dispatch- Another advantage of using drones is that they operate when required rather than over fixed-term operations that might solicit use of services even when not necessary.
  3. Increased accessibility- UAVs can gain access to sites that either may not be accessible to on-ground personnel or that can endanger safety.
  4. Accuracy- UAVs can provide greater accuracy over manual procedures when it comes to taking measurements, images for rooftops as well as ground assessments.
  5. Upgraded Data Collection- Drones permit the gathering of different and varied data colletion, often simultaneously, or at a faster rate.
  6. Application stacking- The easy adaptability of drones allows the device to perform a myriad of applications independently, or simultaneously, in a way creating stacking benefits.

The Future Use of Drones

Many of the difficulties put forward, where solar panels are concerned, is that they are not cleaned regularly, they accumulate dust as well as dirt, and their efficiency drops. Some organisations are working on launching drone-powered sweepers and are researching the market thoroughly. However, at the moment, no company seems to have a finished product that is ready to move on beyond the phase of development. Other start-ups have also been busy working on producing small UAVs that can clean rooftop solar arrays.

Hawk Monitor for Solar Solutions

Hawk Aerospace has launched the Hawk Monitor that has the ability to supervise and inspect spots for maintenance of oil and gas infrastructure, mainly in terms of faults such as corrosion, leaks, and other anomalies, in a quick and most cost-effective manner. Hawk’s drone system allows for inspections linked to refineries, plants and rigs without any additional effort or any alternative operation required. Systems Operations include Wind Turbine inspection, Thermal solar Farm inspection, Photovoltaic Farm inspection, and Surveying New Power Plant Location.