Photovoltaic Technical Inspections


Preventive maintenance with drones in photovoltaic plants.

In Spain we are fortunate to have many hours of sun … recently published the Annual Report UNEF 2020, of the Spanish Photovoltaic Union, which said that in 2019 Spain was a leading market in the photovoltaic sector at European level and the sixth worldwide, with a record installed capacity both in the segment of ground-mounted plants, with 4,201 MW of new capacity, and in self-consumption, with 459 MW. And now in 2020, before the irruption of covid-19, the forecasts were of continuity with estimates in the order of 2 GW for ground-mounted plants and 600 MW for self-consumption.

The commissioning of a photovoltaic plant and its maintenance require thermographic studies to detect possible failures. SG drones plans flights with drones equipped with high resolution thermal cameras to later analyze and exploit the data through a web portal where you can display all the results.

Use of thermography applied to photovoltaic plants.

It is carried out in compliance with IEC 62446 Methodology. Through a study of the solar field, analyzing the airspace and requesting all the necessary coordinations. Preplan flights, adjust overlaps and image resolution, both thermal and RGB. Once the flights are completed, the images are processed to generate a report of the anomalies detected. From the web platform you can view and classify the detected defects and generate a pdf report with the results. These results are obtained by applying artificial intelligence algorithms that allow us to typify and locate defects on 100% of the photovoltaic modules.

Technical Inspections with drones in
Photovoltaic Plants

Rapid detection of hot spots with thermal cameras installed on the drones.

The most common errors are Hot Spots, which occur when a cell of the photovoltaic module has overheated. Depending on the temperature difference it has with the rest that surrounds it, we could consider it to be defective, or else, it is within the allowed ranges.

In addition, we will find failures due to by-pass diode, disconnected modules, shadows, dirt, vegetation or delamination or breakage of the panels.

We also have a Level II thermograph to perform field analysis of Inverters and Combiner Boxes.

Currently for thermography we have the DJI Inspire 1 PRO drones equipped with the DJI XT 640×512 and 19mm thermal camera and the DJI Matrice 300 RTK drone equipped with the DJI XT2 640 x 512 13mm thermal camera and DJI H20T. All cameras are radiometric.

Aerial view from the drone of a photovoltaic plant to be technically inspected with a drone equipped with a thermal camera.

Detail of a drone inspection of a solar panel module where a Hot Spot is clearly visible where 85º is reached.

Detection on a two-axis solar panel of various faults or hot spots with a thermal camera from a drone or RPA.

Image captured by the drone’s thermal camera showing a panel with a higher temperature than the surrounding panels.

In addition to the thermal camera images, inspections are also carried out at the photovoltaic plants to detect other types of incidents.

Two Hots pots detected by AI (Artificial Intelligence) software in a thermal inspection performed by a drone.