Photovoltaic panels produce renewable energy by using sunlight to generate electricity. These panels are made of photovoltaic cells, which are devices that convert light into electricity.
Photovoltaic panels, whether for small installations or large photovoltaic plants, must be kept in good condition to operate efficiently. One of the ways to do this is to perform periodic technical inspections, such as the ones we do at SG drones solutions.
A technical inspection of photovoltaic panels includes a series of tests and measurements to assess the condition of the panels, inverters and other components of the installation. The main objectives of a technical inspection are:
– Detection of hot spots and defects: Infrared thermography performed with drones makes it possible to identify hot spots (“HOT SPOT”) on panels, which are caused by defective cells, dirt, vegetation or electrical interconnection problems. This early detection of defects helps to prevent power loss and avoid further damage to the system.
– Performance and efficiency assessment: Drones can collect data on the actual energy production of the PV panels and compare it to the expected performance. This evaluation provides valuable information on the overall state of the system and identifies possible areas for improvement to optimize efficiency. (it is not exactly like that, in fact, the drones detect the hot spots and by means of a software these estimates of yield loss are made).
– Identification of damage and physical deterioration: Through visual inspection with high-resolution cameras, drones can detect physical damage to panels, such as cracks, breaks or dirt accumulation. This information helps to take necessary maintenance and repair measures to prolong the life of the system.
– Shading and obstacle analysis: Drones can map 100% of the PV plant and assess the presence of shading or obstacles that may affect energy production. Identifying and fixing these problems ensures better system performance and efficiency.
Technical inspections of photovoltaic panels must be performed at a certain frequency, which will depend on a number of factors such as the age of the installation, the climate in which it is located, the level of maintenance it receives, etc. In general, at least an annual inspection is recommended, but more frequent inspections may be necessary in case of extreme weather conditions or if the installation is not properly maintained.
The types of analyses and measurements performed during technical inspections of photovoltaic panels vary depending on the installation and the equipment used. However, some of the tests are:
– Visual inspection with high resolution cameras: The drones are equipped with high-definition cameras that allow detailed visual inspections of the PV panels. The aim is to detect physical damage, accumulation of dirt, cracks, tears or any other obvious signs of deterioration.
– Infrared thermography: One of the most valuable techniques in technical inspections in photovoltaic plants using drones is infrared thermography. High-definition thermographic cameras mounted on the drone are used to detect hot spots (“HOT SPOT”), faulty cells or electrical interconnection problems that may be affecting system performance.
– Performance analysis: data collected by the drone and other devices are used to assess actual system performance compared to theoretical estimates. This allows to determine if the system is producing the expected amount of solar energy.
– Shading and Obstacle Assessment: Drones can identify potential shading and nearby obstacles that could affect solar energy production from solar panels.
– 3D mapping and modeling: Drones can create 3D maps and models of the PV plant, allowing for better visualization and analysis of panel distribution and orientation.
– Safety: Drones can be used to safely inspect hard-to-reach or hazardous areas, minimizing risks to human inspectors.
Technical inspections of photovoltaic panels are an essential part of the maintenance of solar installations. By performing these inspections, PV plant owners can ensure that their systems are functioning properly and are generating the expected solar power.
Drone thermography is a technique that uses infrared cameras to detect problems in photovoltaic panels. Thermography can identify hot spots on the panels, which can be caused by a number of factors such as dirt, shadows, panel defects or incorrect electrical connections.
Drones are a very effective tool for the thermography of photovoltaic panels, as they allow access to areas that are difficult to access and obtain high-resolution images of the panels. Drone thermography can help solar facility owners identify and troubleshoot problems with PV panels, which can improve facility performance and reduce maintenance costs.
The main advantages of using thermography with a drone in photovoltaic plants are:
– Access to hard-to-reach areas: Drones can access hard-to-reach areas, such as the tops of photovoltaic panels or areas that are covered with vegetation. This allows engineers to identify problems that would be difficult or impossible to detect on foot.
– Obtaining high-resolution images: Drones can obtain high-resolution images of PV panels, allowing analysis engineers to identify small problems that would be difficult to see with the naked eye.
– Early detection of problems: Thermography allows inspectors to identify problems in PV panels at an early stage, which can help prevent further damage.
– Reduced maintenance costs: Thermography makes it possible to reduce maintenance costs by allowing inspectors to detect and resolve solar panel problems before they cause significant damage.
Drone thermography is an effective technique for the inspection of photovoltaic panels. Drones enable solar facility owners to identify and troubleshoot panel problems, which can improve facility performance and reduce maintenance costs.
Technical inspections of photovoltaic panels and drone thermography are two important tools for the maintenance of solar installations. By using these techniques, owners of solar installations can ensure that their systems are working properly and are generating the expected energy, thus saving significant financial costs.