Autarco leading the industry through drone aerial thermography

Leading the industry

Autarco has initiated an industry-leading project designed to enhance the delivery of optimal performing solar systems. Together with Dutch Drone Company, O-Nexus and support from RVO, the project will provide new insights and tackle one of the biggest issues in the solar industry.

Why use drone-based aerial thermography?

As a company committed to innovation and digitisation of the industry, Autarco has been an early adopter of drone-based aerial thermography and is now seeking to maximise this new technology to its full extent.

This project will provide additional data to help deliver two improvements to our software through advanced data analytics and machine learning.

  1. Improve performance loss model
  2. Improve monitoring-based detection of defects

Advanced monitoring of solar performance

When an Autarco Authorized Dealer designs a system in our free software, a digital twin is created of your actual solar system. By using real-time satellite irradiance (sun levels) and temperature data, we calculate expected performance of this digital twin and compare it to the actual production of your system. If there is underperformance detected, quite often it is to do with vegetation growth, soiling or inverter failure. Occasionally underperformance may be caused by a defect in the solar panel which is far more difficult to detect and diagnose remotely.

In addition to being able to detect system underperformance this way, we can also detect anomalies in the monitoring data. The monitoring data we receive from your system includes the DC voltage and current data of each group of modules on your system. Using this we can already detect certain types of defects. A near perfect understanding of system design (e.g. stringing) and shade conditions is required to achieve an acceptable level of accuracy for this type of detection.

Autarco is one of very few companies who can achieve this, thanks to the digital twin and our integrated total solution approach.

How aerial thermography benefits our advanced monitoring

We want to improve our advanced monitoring even further. To achieve this we need more data to validate our models and calculations..

1. Improve performance loss model

If drone aerial thermography tells us that there are certain anomalies found, we want to be able to say with certainty what type of performance losses these anomalies are causing in the full system. There is no one in the industry who is currently able to do this reliably.

2. Improve monitoring-based detection of defects

If we can continue to improve the intelligence of our software in the future, we might not even need to use the drones to take the aerial thermography images. We can potentially fully detect and diagnose the defects in the solar panels entirely through our advanced monitoring data..

The results of the drone flight cna be seen in the video below.