The Challenge

GIS Drones received a project involving the Thermography of photovoltaic modules at Masdar PV Plant.

There were conventional Alternatives available, but here’s how the team at GIS Drones completed the project in less time, at a fraction of the cost, and in greater detail.

The Masdar City 10MW Solar Photovoltaic Plant was the first grid-connected renewable energy project in the UAE and the largest of its kind in the Middle East when inaugurated.
The facility produces about 17,500 megawatt-hours of clean electricity annually and offsets 15,000 tonnes of carbon emissions annually. The plant consists of 87,780 multi-crystalline and thin-film solar panel modules.

Project Deliverables

The Photovoltaic panels at the powerplant had to be checked for damages and anomalies at the panel surface, a symptom of structural or operational failure at the cell level.

They had two options to approach the problem.

Conventional Alternatives for the Problem

The conventional method to survey and analyze the powerplant’s solar panels would require the following:

Expensive equipment in a large quantity.

  • Large Manpower
  • Higher cost
  • A lot of time
  • Unreliable and inconsistent Data gathering

The Proposed Solution

Our Approach was to use the DJI M300 equipped with the zenmuse thermal imaging sensor. This was the perfect drone for the job. Its Key Features include

DJI Matrice 300 RTK

  • 15 km Max Transmission1
  • 55-min Max Flight Time2
  • 6 Directional Sensing & Positioning
  • Primary Flight Display
  • IP45 Rating
  • -20°C to 50°C Operating Temperature
  • Hot-swappable Battery
  • UAV Health Management System

The Execution

Our Approach was to survey the entire solar farm with the DJI Matrice m300 RTK equipped with the H20T Zenmuse sensor and take regular and thermal images of the solar panels.

Then use AI to identify faultily, damaged, or low-performing panels.

Technical Details

Thermal imaging or Thermography is a process in which a thermal camera captures an image using infrared radiation emitted from the solar panels.

And we accomplished this using the DJI M300 drone + the H20T Zenmuse sensor.

We also performed Visual and Thermal inspections and then produced a detailed Geotagging report for the faulty modules and hot spot identification.

A Comparison of Our Solution and the Conventional One

Conventional Approach

Expensive equipment in a large quantity.
Extra Manpower
Higher cost
A lot of time
Unreliable and inconsistent Data gathering
Longer Post-processing time

GIS Drones Solution

Lower equipment costs
2 People Only
Lower operating costs
90% less time
Consistent & Complete Data Gathering.
1 week Post Survey Analysis

Final Results

Thanks to the Visual and Thermal Images, the expertise of the GIS Drones Team, and the Ai technology in our possession, we were able to identify the following problems:

Visual Survey Video

Thermal Survey Video

Broken or Missing Modules

Modules were reported as broken or missing if they were missing or damaged in the visual photography or in thermal photography.

There were a total of 370 modules in this category.

Disconnected Stings

These strings were disconnected due to a damaged module.

We were able to geotag the affected modules with an accuracy of up to 3 cm with the latest RTK technology on our Drones.

Conclusion

Conventional inspection using handheld devices is unsafe and time-consuming.
While using drones, we were able to achieve a 30%-50% Reduction in inspection cost and about 90% time savings in site inspection.

So, the project was an overall success. We also provided them with detailed post-survey analysis, and our use of software, data consistency and the team’s expertise was on point.

All this was possible with the help of the industry-leading technology at our hands and the experienced team members.

Without them, GIS Drones won’t be what it is today.

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