What is Air Thermography
Aerial thermography is a method of using a thermal drone to measure the amount of heat emitted from a solar panel and convert it into a digital image.
As drone technology continues to expand, so does the range of solutions available to its users. Aerial thermal surveys are proof that the technology is growing and becoming increasingly affordable.
Importance of Aerial Thermography
Using drone technology for inspection of solar power plants eliminates traditional methods.
Thermal data combined with visual images captured during aerial thermal inspection provides valuable and actionable information to solar plant owners. This method also eliminates the need to conduct site inspections at solar power plants to identify performance issues related to fouling or shading.
What is Infrared Thermography?
All objects emit invisible, infrared energy. Solar power plant owners can use DJI Mavic 3T thermal inspection drones to accurately capture detailed temperature information of each cell in a solar panel through infrared thermography. Aerial thermography is a cost-effective, fast and accurate solar PV inspection method.
Major Defects Identified by Infrared Air Thermography Inspections
Naked eye inspections can only identify dust and other physical defects within the panels. Current defect types that MapperX autonomous AI software can detect and report as a result of thermal inspection;
- Cell Failure
- Module Connection Error
- Cracked Panel Error
- Diode/Lehim Fault
- String Error
- Ghosting Error
Most photovoltaic panel manufacturers guarantee 90% efficiency for 10 years and 80% efficiency for 25 years. However, as a panel ages, gradual degradation occurs. Abnormal weather conditions (lightning, storms) panel cell overheating and other component failures can also lead to hot spots in a PV panel.
High Efficiency Loss in PV Panels
- Each type of failure causes a loss of energy ranging from a few % of production to complete failure of the panel.
- Depending on the plants, these faults can lead to a shortfall of up to 45% of production in the most critical cases.
Air Thermography with MapperX
MapperX’s aerial thermography service is tailored to world standards. Aerial Thermography is the fastest and most cost-effective method of detecting solar power plant performance issues and improving plant efficiency. MapperX can inspect an entire 100 MW solar power plant covering 200 hectares within 4 to 5 days.
All data collected and analysed is compiled into a report that helps solar power plant owners to better understand where to direct crews for critical repairs.
Our reports show anomalies categorised from major to minor, which gives a clear overview of the different faults found and how common they may be.
Site owners can use this information to better understand the scale and severity of electrical problems that may be present, including why these problems are occurring and exactly where the fault is located.
Infrared thermal imaging captured by the drone has proven to be a highly effective way of finding PV panel defects. Aerial thermography with MapperX does not require shutting down the plant. While solar power plants continue to operate, pv inspection work can be done safely with thermal drone.
Solar Panel Thermal Review
The cost of performing a thermal imaging scan is small compared to the results and benefits it can achieve. Infrared thermal imaging results on PV panels can lead to huge savings for solar power plant owners.
The use of UAVs during inspections on solar panels provides accurate results It also allows us to cover more area and stay in a safe position. A thermal imaging scan can be easily conducted and can locate faulty panels among the many that may be present.
For example, an infrared image from an inspection of a solar PV panel shows a single defective cell that has overheated. Defective cells such as this will reduce the power output of the panel. Defective cells can get hot enough to crack the glass cover, allowing moisture to penetrate, and melt solder joints, causing the entire panel to fail. Infrared inspection locates defective cells and electrical components and thus ensures efficient panel operation and long life of the solar power plant.
After thermographic inspection in solar power plants, we will prepare and provide you with a complete world-class report detailing all our data and recommendations.