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The purpose of the EASY PV (EGNSS high Accuracy System improving PhotoVoltaic plants maintenance) project is to provide a time and cost effective service as direct response to the growing need expressed by several O&M Companies and PV field owners to enhance the energy production of their plants.
Plant’s owners are responsive about enhancing their energy production and recognize the importance of maintenance in the life cycle of a PV plant, according to the policies of incentives activated in the past years inside UE from the members’ states governments, in favour of clean energy production.
As photovoltaic plants are aging, it is not uncommon that their production lowers due to inefficiency caused by unknown modules on the plant; in fact a significant number of modules might result defective, lowering the whole plant’s productivity.
|Thermal inspections are valuable for PV owners and O&M Companies, but relevant procedures, currently performed by operators with handheld cameras, are time demanding and sometimes expensive due to safety costs for the personnel involved in the operations (e.g.: PV modules on roofs, rough areas, …). It stands to reason that today such operations are not fully automated yet and the responsive recognition of a broken module might result very difficult in a large PV plant.
PV Industry is reaching the “age of maturity” with respect to existing PV plants, therefore further attention is being given towards maintenance technologies and processes in order to enhance energy production. A considerable number of modules in a mid-size might result defective, lowering the whole plant’s productivity. Thermographic analysis is the best and most effective way to find out defective cells and modules.
As a first improved solution, The growing technology of RPAS (Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems) represents a cost effective solution to reduce time, costs and risks for personnel involved in maintenance operations. State-of-the-art solution of PV plants inspections by means of RPAS system are still in an early prototyping phase, being performed by manual RPAS flights and visual live (real time) thermal recognition of broken modules.
RPAS are exploited to gather thermic images which are geo-referenced by GPS positioning and processed by computer vision algorithms.
However this configuration is very respectful but still not enough in order to provide the required positioning accuracy for the automation and fast identification of the broken modules.
EASY PV ENHANCED SOLUTION
EASY PV solution is conceived to build up an automatic system for acquiring, georeferencing and processing both visible and thermal images captured by an RPAS equipped with a Galileo/EGNOS high accuracy receiver, flying over a photovoltaic field. In this way it is possible to easily (i.e. automatically, with safety improvement for operators and saving time) detect the defective module to be replaced.
The EASY PV proposed solution is focused on the usage of thermal cameras installed on board an RPAS in order to detect thermic anomalies only on the defective modules (not the entire array series). The enabling technology is high accuracy GNSS positioning: the module to be replaced is straightforwardly identified by comparing the position of a geo-referenced defective module with the RPAS high accuracy positioning.
Only the aid of accurate positioning allows a cost effective solution to reduce time, costs and risks for personnel involved: the added value provided by the employment of GNSS high accuracy solutions as novelty in the RPAS domain is the key driver for the EASY PV turnkey solution.
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