As countries around the world pivot to more sustainable forms of energy production, solar power is taking off. They are now being used in many homesteads in the world including Nigeria due to their many pros that are far more than cons. Installation of solar panels (photovoltaic systems) have increased dramatically. 

Scores of people and organizations are harnessing the sun’s energy to produce electricity for numerous purposes. Solar panels are photovoltaic systems. They capture energy from the sun and transform it into electricity. Each panel uses solar modules. Each module is made up of solar cells, which generate electrical power. 

A solar photovoltaic system is usually mounted on a rooftop or on the ground. The way it’s mounted can be fixed or flexible, every component in the system needs to be in good working condition to generate maximum possible energy. That’s where drones come into the picture. While installation of solar panels can be a monumental task, inspection presents an even greater challenge. 

 It can be a risky business depending on how high these solar panels are installed from the ground, which means workers may have to climb high-rise platforms to be able to perform inspections. Essentially, production of energy must stop. Inspecting solar panels can be done the easy way or the hard way. 

Maintenance crews can be sent to manually inspect panels or be deployed to areas of concern. On an industrial solar farm, it goes without saying that this is an enormous task. Walking around a large area with a handheld camera is a long and tedious task. It can take teams days to complete a full sweep.

Manual Inspection of solar panels in Nigeira
Manual Inspection of solar panels

With rooftop panels, space restrictions can make it difficult for crews to gather close-up data from directly above. Walking the perimeter and scanning panels at an angle makes it more difficult to detect anomalies and increases the chance that reflections will skew the results of an inspection.

So the best way to carry out solar panel inspection is from above. The use of drones for solar field inspection has been rapidly increasing over the last few years. Traditional assessments using field engineers and hand-held cameras is time-consuming and possibly hazardous work, and can lead to missed opportunities due to human error. 

Deploying Drone to inspect solar panels
Solar panels inspection with a Drone

Semi-autonomous drones can provide the same data while offering significant advantages over this older inspection method, including:  An increase in efficiency, improved data, less hazardous and better reporting. Drones can be used with both thermal cameras and RGB (visible light) cameras, detecting debris with the latter and technical issues with the former. 

Using drones for solar panel inspection alleviates the need to stop energy production and the risk to workers. In the past, technicians would need to travel on site, by ground, to determine whether there were issues with the panels. And if panels weren’t inspected regularly, there could be serious long-term damage. 

But with drones, video feedback can be taken with ease, and the site doesn’t have to be walked in order to be maintained. This encourages more regular maintenance and ensures that technicians know exactly where they’re being deployed when they are being deployed. 

A solar drone inspection can be used to detect issues with solar panels specifically, such as heat-related issues. If there are heat fissures or cracks forming, drones can report back the exact location of the issue, and technicians can be deployed directly. 

One very important advantage of using solar panels in Nigeria is that they do not emit any gases that are common in green houses. The panels do not emit any smoke, chemical or heavy metals that can be risk factors to human health. Solar panels are therefore environmentally friendly when compared to burning of fossil fuels to generate energy. 

This is very important since carbon emissions are dangerous and avoiding their emission helps in safeguarding our present and future environment. For safety, a drone solar panel inspection is incredibly important. Without regular inspection, solar panels can become so damaged that they need to be replaced. Regular inspection will save an organization both time and money, and will potentially reduce the risk to individual technicians.

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