Prices of solar panels have been dropping over the past decade, and this is one
reason why solar companies are looking for better ways to cut costs in their
Thanks to newer technology, solar companies can advance the distribution of solar
as well as the functioning and maintenance of the solar plantations. One method of
doing so is to make use of drones, with the goal to minimize the cost involving the
upkeep of the solar panel.
Drones are becoming more popular in many industries, and solar power is one of
them. These fancy looking flying machines can be used from the start, during the
construction and afterwards to make maintenance easier. The goal is to make
operations on solar fields more efficient and with that comes time and labor savings.
Drones used in Solar PV system design
Before a solar farm gets constructed, the layout should be well assessed beforehand
to ensure a good return on investment. When a design crew is hired to do site
surveying, it can work up a high cost as a lot of trials and errors usually occur. By
using a drone with a camera connected to the web, it is possible for a design team to
do the work from a desk in the office. The drone will also give a better measurement
of the area and will ensure a more accurate layout. When evaluating the conditions
of the site during the designing process, a drone assists the designers better in
spotting those troubled areas. Certain features of the location may be inappropriate
for a solar PV system which then can be avoided, ensuring better productivity.
Drones used during the construction of Solar systems
Solar developments need to be visited by the project manager frequently to make
sure that everything is going as planned. If there are drones on site, the project
manager does not even have to be there in person. Managers can log in remotely to
a drone at the project and pilot it around the site with a remote control. By visiting the project through a drone, it can help save the project managers time and transportation costs.
Drones used for maintenance and operation
Dust on solar panels can block the sunlight, and this causes less energy generation.
Therefore, it is important to keep the solar panels clean, but this can be pricey when
done manually. It is still a new concept, but drones can be used to clean a solar panel
at lower cost. By using a solar array to charge the drones, there will be no fuel
expense needed and the job can be done ten times faster for almost nothing.
Examples of solar companies making use of drones
– Strata solar:
These developers are making use of drones for survey purposes. Drones with
infrared cameras are being used to do survey jobs for more than 1 gigawatt of solar
projects that are operating. If any of the solar panels are unproductive in generating
electricity, these drone cameras can pick it up. By spotting the problems down to the
cell level, the overall health of the systems is examined accurately.
– First Solar:
Experiments with drones, done by one of the largest power plant developers in the
USA are proving their benefits. The company, First Solar has been using drones
during the designing of power plants and for thermal imaging during the operations
of solar farms.
Even though drones can become a significant money and time saver in the solar
industry, they are still a costly investment to make. The fall in solar panel prices also
means that companies have less capital available for more expensive technology.
However, the solar industry still has a long way to go in replacing fossil fuel.
Therefore, it might help solar companies stay stable by ensuring efficiency and
cutting cost through gradually implementing modern technologies like drones.