Increased worldwide awareness of the environment and risks of depleting non-renewable energy sources are the reason why we intensively strive to find new ways of using alternative sources. Solar energy is an inexhaustible source which is being used more and more due to various programs supporting construction of solar power plants. However, high-quality installation, regular maintenance and inspection of all a plants solar panels are necessary for smooth and efficient operation. A fast, cheap and reliable method that can be used to check the quality of solar panels in large areas is thermo-diagnostics techniques that can be carried out by the Workswell WIRIS (intended for drones’ UAV – Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) thermo-camera system. This system represents a major breakthrough in thermography. We can expect that photovoltaic power plants will be controlled by handheld thermo-cameras in the foreseeable future.
Too many defects in photovoltaic panels result in the occurrence of so-called “hotspots”. These “hotspots” are a recombination of electrons which can create holes in the solar cells. A lot of energy is released during this process which is then radiated into space as heat. These spots can get extremely hot, the temperature difference between a cell with defects and a good cell may be greater than 50°C. This often leads to irreversible damage on both the defective cell and the entire panel.
The ideal solution for this issue is to use thermal cameras. Hot spots will be visible in the thermal image as they will have a remarkably contrasting colour compared to the other solar cells and surrounding environment. However, it is not effective or safe to carry out “hotspot” checks with handheld thermal cameras in many cases. Photovoltaic panels are often installed on pitched roofs with poor accessibility and solar power plants are very large. Furthermore, natural obstacles such as, vegetation, terrain roughness, etc. often make impossible to manoeuvre among the panels. For this reason, a drone with the Workswell WIRIS thermal system offers an elegant and economically efficient solution.
Previous “hotspot” and quality checks of solar cells on larger photovoltaic power plants took about two days but, using the Workswell WIRIS these checks can now be done in a matter of hours. The Workswell WIRIS allows you to record precise location data via GPS (optional accessory). This saves a lot of time during the final processing of the measurement protocol as data and diagnostic information may be uniquely assigned to individual images and photovoltaic panels. You can also compile detailed geographic maps with the thermal images.