DJI Drones become allies for solar farms


DJI drones are becoming an invaluable asset in the energy industry, especially as the need to invest in green energy is becoming paramount in order to combat climate change. Drones can enable companies to optimize their efficiency when completing time-consuming or dangerous tasks by covering vast distances and providing high-resolution aerial images. Solar farm managers can use accurate data collected by drones with thermal sensors, ensuring that routine operations are conducted efficiently.

Many countries worldwide are increasing their investments in renewable energy projects. One of the preferred solutions is solar energy, in fact investments have reached 1.3 trillion $ worldwide, accounting for half of the total assets contributed to the growth of renewable energy. This is partly thanks to the decrease in installation costs, which have gone down by about 70%. In order to make solar power even more affordable, solar energy managers must optimize operations and avoid losses along the energy generation process.

Assessment of solar fields is traditionally done using handheld thermal imagers to check for defective cells or cables. Personnel must manually keep track of the location of the faulty panels in order to perform maintenance afterwords. This method is clearly inefficient, especially considering the dimensions of most solar farms. Using drones like the DJI Matrice 210 paried with the DJI Zenmuse XT2 thermal payloads can enable operators to survey large areas within a solar farm in a short time, collecting high-resolution RGB and thermal images during a single flight.

Using drones, inspection times can be cut by up to 70%!

Inspection also requires accurate planning and a thorough understanding of the area to be inspected. Thanks to drone technology, information such as area of the farm, number of installed panels and power production capacity can be easily assessed.

Flight plans can be created using the information collected during the assessment phase and taking into account the battery capacity of the drones. The flight plans can be then imported to the DJI Pilot app, so that drone operators can review them before execution.

In order to begin operations, inspection teams should be sure to have multiple charged batteries in order to optimize workflow. Depending on the solar farm dimension and flight plans, inspection teams can usually perform up to 25 flights and collect over 6,500 images per day.

Once data is collected it can be processed using photogrammetry software which allows to reconstruct RGB Orthomosaics and thermal maps from the images obtained. Mapping files can then be integrated into a Geography Information System, where maintenance teams can quickly identify anomalies that reflect potential faults.

By analyzing thermal images, maintenance teams can in fact view the status of each panel, identifying potential problems much quicker than with traditional methods. Combining RGB and thermal data can provide much more detailed information: it can help solar farmers determine if the heat anomalies are caused by faults found physically on the panel or internal issues.

Identifying faulty elements will help to prevent major output deficiencies, therefore increasing efficiency and reducing costs.
Data collected can be saved and used as a baseline for further inspections.

DJI Enterprise solutions are truly revolutionizing the energy industry, giving managers access to tools to improve their routine operations. Drones are known for their incredible versatility and broad spectrum of applications, solar farms being one of them. AirWorks, DJI official dealer in Dubai, offers businesses and agencies its consulting services and enterprise products to find the best drone solutions to meet their needs. Any operation can be improved and made more efficient by deploying UAVs!

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