With a growing need for sustainable energy, solar power continues to rise in popularity and necessity. In addition to homes with solar panels, which many of us are used to seeing on businesses and homes in our neighborhoods, large solar farms can collectively generate enough solar energy to power 160,000 U.S. homes. Due to the large scale, UAVS for solar farms are growing as a resource for cost-effective monitoring and maintenance on large sites.
UAVs for Solar Farms
UAVs for solar farms have many different uses and advantages, including:
- Accurately spotting malfunctioning equipment quicker than humans
- UAVs for solar farms can operate autonomously
- Solar panel maintenance, including dust and grime removal
- Surveys to spot endangered species that could shut down a project
- Minimize human labor and increase efficiency
Properly equipped UAVs for solar farms can accurately identify malfunctioning equipment faster than humans, which removes a great deal of risk. Many solar farms are located in vast areas of deserts. In these desert locations, dehydration, heatstroke and injury are risks for solar panel inspectors, but not for UAVs.
UAVS for solar farms outfitted with infrared thermal imaging cameras can scan fields of panels at speeds up to 50 miles per hour and identify malfunctioning panels, which generate a specific signal. UAVs for solar farms can scan the same area as a human with a handheld device in a fraction of the time. Whereas human inspection could take weeks, UAV inspections of millions of panels can be done daily with reports on the entire facility.
On the maintenance side, UAVs for solar farms can be used to clean and solar panels, which are located in desert areas where dust and grime are a concern. One drone-based cleaning technology developed in Germany has armed UAVs with brushes that fly back and forth over a panel, sweeping the dust away. Removing the dust from panels can generate up to 35% more power, which is a huge increase in efficiency and decreased the risk of damaging equipment.
When it comes to reporting data, finding malfunctioning panels, as well as maintenance and endangered species identification in the area, UAVs for solar farms have many advantages. UAVs have proven to be safer, more efficient and a cost effective alternative to human labor on solar farms.