Drone inspecting a photovoltaic park

Photovoltaic (PV) parks are among the most promising renewable energy technologies and will be a key component of the future smart energy grids. A significant issue in PV parks is the time and money consuming inspection and quality control processes consisting of conventional, manual infrared (IR) spectroscopic measurements, which are also dependent on the environmental conditions. In addition, due to the absence of a commercially available specialized software for IR data collection, the interpretation of the results is prone to human errors leading to incorrect conclusions, delayed damage identification, poor maintenance and reduced efficiency. Recently, some promising efforts have been conducted on drone-assisted aerial IR thermography in order to reduce the environmental conditions effect on the accuracy of the IR measurements, hence minimizing the risks of results misinterpretation. However, a specialized drone operator is still required on site and there is no yet any commercially available application supporting the simultaneous, autonomous, and synchronized use of multiple drones for aerial IR thermography, which is mandatory especially for medium- to large-sized PV parks.

The purpose of this project is to develop and evaluate an integrated system for automated monitoring of PV parks using aerial IR thermography resulting to (1) reduced inspection duration, (2) improved quality and accuracy of the evaluation process, and (3) direct assessment of PV failures for better and optimal energy harvesting. This project will focus on concepts that are not sufficiently supported by commercially available solutions and on the integration of the various systems in order to achieve and surpass the desired functionality levels as defined by the end users of the project.