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Drones to Improve Performance of Solar PV Plants

The need for accelerating the developments in procurement of clean energy through advanced technologies has spurred the investments of governments towards energy & utilities sector. Despite the success of wind energy projects, the focus remains concentred to solar photovoltaic (PV) technologies. For addressing the key global conflicts of climate change, sustainable development, and energy security, countries across the globe are exhibiting their contribution by funding large, utility-scale PV plants. Developed energy markets are reaping advantage of PV technologies in realizing their determinations towards increasing the contribution of solar power in the overall energy supply. Moreover, the growing dependency of consumers on solar power as the apt alternative to hydroelectricity has influenced the energy players towards focusing on extending the decarbonised energy supply. The aim of energy giants also includes improving the operational efficiency of PV plants by augmenting their performance through emerging technologies.

Off recently, Ingeteam, an established company that specializes in production of control electronics, announced the use of drones in augmenting the performance of PV plants. Known for producing power electronics such as inverters and frequency controllers, Ingeteam has pioneered in the use of drones towards enhancement of solar power plants. The new system is a part of Ingeteam’s research project that aims at PV plant performance optimization through the use of drones.

Ingeteam’s Pioneering Project

According to the news, Ingeteam is working towards empowering the role of drones in monitoring of PV plants. By offering a solution to the critical challenge of achieving high returns from PV plants while competing with other renewable and non-renewable sources of energy. The company has special expertise in developing solutions, products and services for electrical engineering of mass-scale energy projects. It is reported that Ingeteam will be launching its pilot drone-based inspection service in 2018, and the drones will be equipped with high-tech sensors and control systems. In-built sensors of the drones will enabling detection of causative factors for lowering performance of PV panels, while algorithms in the control systems will be classifying these clauses on the basis of damage, deterioration or soiling. Additional algorithms will be delivering robust and reliable indicators for economic & technical performance of a PV panel system. In addition, the service will also facilitate an application for optimization of PV plant maintenance.

Details on the SCARAB

While minimizing the maintenance and operation costs of PV plants is observed to be the key advantage of this service, Ingeteam will also bolster the improvements in post-processing duration, a reduced measurement-taking period, and overall panel inspection. The University of Castilla La Mancha will be participating with Ingeteam in the project, which is being coined as SCARAB. With over £600,000 in funding, the project is likely to reach completion by 2019-end. Through the success of this project, Ingeteam will propel the use of information technologies in development of advanced algorithms on fault classification, plant maintenance strategies optimization, and estimation of PV plant status. Through the use of efficient sensors, the service will also process and monitor signals for automatic fault detection and inspection in PV panels.

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