Drones in the photovoltaic sector, from engineering to operation and maintenance

Francisco José García Morcillo, head of Eiffage Energía’s drones department, has participated in the Solar PV Meeting webinar  organised by the journal Energética21. The aim of this meeting was to analyse the challenges facing the development of large-scale photovoltaics in our country. García Morcillo spoke about the role of drones in large photovoltaic plants. In this sense, he explained all that drones can contribute from the very first moment in solar facilities. Today, these devices perform LiDAR and photogrammetry work, and allow field work to be planned with much greater precision and accuracy. Its use saves time in the field and avoids delays at the construction site thanks to its accuracy of more than 5 cm.

For inspecting panels at our farms, Eiffage Energía uses artificial vision trained on more than 5 million panels, specifically adapted for this type of task. These checks are performed at all wavelengths, from ultraviolet, visual, near infra-red (electroluminescence); to far infra-red (thermal). In addition, digital twins of the plants are made to perform simulations in the shadows; as well as for structural calculations to maximize production such as the exact location of the torque of the trackers.

How do drones help us to improve our customer service?

Drones help us to improve the service we provide to our customers by offering them: high quality results; improved response times, minimisation of unforeseen circumstances; help with developing in-house apps; constant feedback from other departments, construction sites and electrical and maintenance facilities; we only take action when it is necessary.

But not only do they help is with photovoltaics, but also with high voltage lines, agriculture, safety and project monitoring.

Web platform for presenting results

We also provide our customers with a proprietary platform for presenting results. A tool with smart management of facilities and users. This gives users quick access to pending and completed inspections.

The platform will contain a history of their evolution. Therefore, together with its Machine Learning algorithm, it will be able to predict the need for intervention.

The reporting tool is fully customizable and automated to deposit in the container the results configured in the input; as well as to control the final result of the reports to meet the set criteria.

We are currently responsible for the operation and maintenance of more than 5 GW of renewable energies in Spain, Chile, Peru, Mexico, Jamaica and Portugal.

To access the full presentation, click here