Fault detection and regular maintenance of both small and large PV installations, is important to secure the expected ROI, however the frequency and detail-level are limited by cost of manpower. Fast PV plant inspection, based on drone-mounted infrared (IR) cameras, reduces the inspection time and cost significantly, and is an emerging alternative to traditional methods. However, the detection accuracy of IR is limited by weather conditions, and to faults causing a sufficient increase in temperature.
This project – DronEL, will develop a fast and accurate automatic drone-based inspection system for PV plants that combines IR, luminescence (EL or PL) imaging, and visual images (VI). The system will be able to detect a wider range of PV panel failures: visual defects, hot-spots, solar cell cracks, potential-induced degradation, and more.
DronEL is a significant leap forward in PV plant inspection technology, combining the speed of drone-based IR inspection with the in-depth analysis of EL/PL. The project will carry out R&D activities in three main areas: Image acquisition and processing, Image interpretation – correlating images with known PV fault types, and drone control system and deployment. Accordingly, the project consists of the following main tasks: (i) R&D of suitable PL/EL imaging techniques. (ii) Integration and optimization of the imaging system on a drone (iii) Development of IR, PL/EL, and VI analysis for automatic fault detection and identification (iv) Integration and test of the drone system with the image analysis and automatic fault detection.