Ingeteam is hoping to optimize the performance of solar power plants with the aid of drones. Its new system is directed at meeting the main challenge faced by solar PV plants today: the need to achieve high returns in order to compete against other sources of energy, both renewable and fossil.
The first drone-based inspection service is set to be launched in 2018. The drone is equipped with in-built sensors, algorithms to detect and classify potential causes of reduced panel performance and provide indicators of the technical and economic performance of the system, and an application to optimize maintenance activities.
The company is expecting the project will lead to improved panel inspection and shorter measurement-taking and post-processing times. It is also anticipated to minimize operation and maintenance costs while amximizing the service life of the plant.
Project SCARAB is headed by Ingeteam, with the participation of the University of Castilla La Mancha. It is set to be completed by the end of 2019 and has a budget of €648,510, co-financed by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness and ERDF funds as part of the Spanish Program for Research, Development and Innovation.
At a technical level, the project focuses on the development of new technologies, in two areas. Primarily, the monitoring and processing of signals for the inspection and automatic fault detection in PV panels through the use of more efficient sensors. Secondly, the use of information technologies to develop advanced fault classification algorithms, estimate PV plant status and optimize maintenance strategies.