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  • Writer's pictureExtreme Aerial

Solar Plants: Our New Frontier

Drones Make PV Plants Safer, More Efficient and More Profitable. Here are 11 Ways Drones are Transforming the Solar Industry

Solar farm

In the past year, Extreme Aerial Productions has started working with solar plants to help plan and monitor their installations and infrastructure. We’re seeing firsthand how dramatically drones up the game for companies in the power industry. Put simply, providing highly accurate data in real-time translates into massive savings. 

Drone technology presents countless advantages to the solar and power industries. From surveying and construction to inspection and maintenance, drones help power companies improve safety, reduce costs and maximize efficiency in all aspects of their operation. 

We see the solar power industry as a new and exciting frontier and are currently expanding the services we offer to PV plants and power companies. In five years time, we suspect no one will do solar without the use of UAVs.

Here’s a look at 11 ways that drones are transforming the solar industry.  

  1. Site Surveying: Even before construction begins, drones equipped with LiDAR and photogrammetry provide detailed land surveys and 3-D maps. Precise topographical data will save you time and money when it comes to planning, designing, choosing equipment and buying materials for your new solar or power site.

  2. Construction Monitoring: Ready to start building? Having drones capture aerial footage allows you to monitor construction progress and ensure that solar installations are built according to specifications and timelines. We can also set up stationary inspection points using a tethered drone to track the progress of your project around the clock. Share video and photographs with all stakeholders to provide evidence that you’re on track. 

  3. Warranties: Want to identify faulty parts as soon as they begin to malfunction? Think that a piece of your tracking was installed wrong? Drones can help you find problems early on while parts are still under warranty and your building team is still on site. Plus, you have irrefutable video evidence of the installation process, just in case an insurance company or supplier gives you a hard time!

  4. Inspection and Maintenance: Until now, inspections were typically conducted in-person through walk-throughs or flyovers, with stationary inspection systems or by mobile mapping conducted from a vehicle. Drones do more, in less time, with fewer resources. Extreme Aerial uses our fleet of drones to conduct routine inspections of solar panels, reducing the need for manual inspections and improving overall maintenance efficiency. Identify everything from poorly torqued bolts and overheating panels to overgrown vegetation. We can also set up ongoing, real-time monitoring of solar installations, providing instant feedback on performance. Regardless of where you are, you can monitor the plant remotely and detect any issues early.

  5. Safety First: Why risk the lives of your staff members? Large solar plants are often located in hard-to-reach places. But nowhere is out of reach for our drones. Whether the panels are out at sea or high on a rooftop, we can fly over to inspect them without any risk to the infrastructure or personnel.

  6. Security: In addition to enhancing employee safety, drones can also be used as a security tool. With ongoing monitoring in place, we can detect unauthorized access or potential threats to any power or solar installation.

  7. Data Analysis: Your business relies on accurate data. Maximizing the revenues of any power company requires solving problems early, identifying inefficiencies, minimizing costs and maximizing outputs. Analysis of the raw data gathered from thermal imagery and high-resolution drone photography gives you highly accurate information to inform your decisions and help you run your business. At EAP, we also take this to the next level and go beyond gathering the data. Our drone experts help you analyze the information so you know exactly how to improve overall system efficiency and performance. Need to know where the inefficiencies are or which panels need cleaning? We can compare to your electrical as-builts and send the location data to the onsite team. We can geolocate any anomalies and let you know exactly which junction, string or panel is being affected. Then, we’ll send that data straight to your phone in real-time. These translate into huge savings on maintenance costs and manpower.

  8. Environmental Impact Assessment: Solar companies face increasing regulatory scrutiny and investors looking for assurance that they’re taking every precaution to minimize the environmental impact. From the planning and construction phase and beyond, drones can assess the environmental impact of solar installations and help guide you in creating a plant that is 100% compliant.

  9. Shade Analysis: Shade is the enemy of any PV plant. Our drones can perform shade analysis to optimize panel placement and ensure maximum sunlight exposure, improving energy production efficiency. They can also fly over the site to check for panels that are shaded by shrubs or other obstructions.

  10. Thermal Imaging: Our drone pilots are also certified in reading thermal imaging. We can film enormous power plants and create detailed heat maps. Identify heated module anomalies caused by damage to the panel or issues such as open circuits. Detect overheating, flag incidents of string heating and predict which panels will soon stop working. Order replacement parts in advance to massively reduce downtime and inefficiencies.

  11. Marketing and Sales: Want a killer marketing video? Eager to impress your investors? In addition to inspecting your solar plant and its construction, we’ll capture stunning aerial footage of your solar installations and turn them into sexy marketing videos. Show the world the benefits of solar energy.

Here’s just one example:

Drones are revolutionizing the solar industry and Extreme Aerial is excited to be at the forefront of this exciting industry. We look forward to partnering with an increasing number of power companies, providing cost-effective, efficient and safe solutions for site surveying, installation, monitoring, and maintenance.

Want to learn how drones can help your company?

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