The challenges of managing and maintaining large solar assets

28 Dec 2018

Today, a large number of multi-MW solar PV power plants are installed in several countries all over the world.

Despite the fact that PV systems are low maintenance, they are not completely maintenance free. Solar is a reliable power source, but solar panels must be actively observed and operated to capture as much of the convertible power as possible.

Experts in the field can vouch for the fact that control and maintenance of the PV power plants are very important. However, there are some obstacles that have to be overcome which are related to the acquisition of the aerial data and the visualization of that data.

 

Data Acquisition challenges

During the capture phase of the data acquisition process, it is not always easy to ensure the quality of data that is being captured during the flight by the drone. This is because of the huge amount of data that must be acquired. The four key factors that can have an impact on the data quality are:

  1. Depending on the size of the PV power plant the mission has to be flown over multiple days, resulting in flight coordination issues.
  2. Multiple pilots will be required to fly the mission over multiple days. Due to the inconsistent data acquisition standards that different pilots are using the output they create will be affected.
  3. Pilots are dependent on the weather and irradiance, which can result in non-compliant image acquisition against IEC standards.
  4. Manually adapting the height of the drone to hilly terrains, often encountered in large PV sites, is a very tough challenge that can cause inconsistencies in resolution across the entire site.

These four challenges can be solved by using software that automatically calculates the details for your flight to rule out human errors and to reduce the flight time.

The Sitemark Pilot App automatically calculates your flight details to deliver consistent data acquisition results regardless of the pilot and location. Subsequently, it simplifies the flight operations and coordination by splitting the flights into smaller blocks. Furthermore, the Pilot App features integrated weather planning to provide a better overview of the changing irradiance conditions. This ensures that the image acquisition is compliant against IEC standards as well as having a better understanding of when to start and stop your thermal flight.

Lastly, because of the automated terrain adjustment feature in the Pilot App the drone will automatically adapt to the different heights of the terrain if you are flying on an inconsistent terrain. Using this feature lets you guarantee a consistent resolution and quality of the data. The Pilot App can be used both online and offline and is available on iOS.

 

 

Challenges in Data Insights

After acquiring, processing and analyzing your data, the next step is to visualize the results to better understand the status of your site.

Two difficulties that you will encounter in visualizing the results of your mission are:

  1. The quantity of anomalies found on a large PV site will be so high that it will be a challenge to utilize and interpret this information and understand the health of your solar assets.
  2. Because of the lack of organization caused by the high number of anomalies, it is very difficult to convert the information into actionable results.

This issue is solved is by implementing a region functionality on the Sitemark Platform.

Regions allow you to cut your site into smaller parts based on three levels; Zones, Inverter and String. Regions can simply be created or edited by clicking the “Manage Regions” button when you are in the Site view on the Sitemark Platform.

 

Sub region and parent region details are always visible to make sure that you can easily keep track of the structure of your site.

 

Connect with us today and let us help you optimize the operational efficiency of your solar site.