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Data management in photovoltaic system inspections by a drone with a thermal camera

The use of a drone with a thermal camera is the order of the day. Industries such as solar thermal, photovoltaic, renewable energy and agriculture are increasingly demanding data and images with this type of sensor. This is because the information they obtain is very valuable.

What’s a thermal camera?

A thermal camera is a camera that records images of the heat radiation emitted by a body. In recent years, thermal cameras have gone from being a product that only appeared in Hollywood movies and news related to warfare to being accessible to everyone thanks to new production methods that have lowered the cost of this equipment.

Cámara térmica

Integrating them into a drone provides us with very useful data and images for the management and maintenance of, for example, a solar park. We will take the latter as an example for this article. But how are we going to make these images useful? How are we going to manage this information?

A solar park is a very large area of many hectares. So, to inspect it, you need to take a lot of pictures. Imagine analyzing them one by one… a long time, right?

Imágenes inspección instalación fotovoltaica

To help companies and organizations to improve the capture and post-processing of the captured information, there are drones, which allow the generation of georeferenced data in a single continuous image. Therefore, in this article we will explain how the workflow of our Mapker thermal camera drone with our radiometric thermal payload is.

Work methodology for inspections in photovoltaic installations

We start with the flight planning. At our ground station, we define our flight area and required resolution. The system takes care of developing our flight lines with the required overlap. In this case, a pumping station with a solar installation.

Planificación vuelo drone cámara térmica

Once we have planned the flight, turned on the equipment and performed the pre-flight check list, the drone with thermal camera mapker starts the flight in autonomous mode capturing the images with a regular matrix. Like the takeoff, the landing is automatic.

After capturing the images, we must process them in the Pix4D software. This way, we get our thermal orthomosaic.

Ortomosaico termico

The advantage of using this methodology is that we generate a continuous and georeferenced image of the area to be inspected. This greatly facilitates the work of detecting possible failures. In addition, data are added providing temperature and GPS to each pixel, so that each of the defects we point out will be easily located and measurable in the photovoltaic installation.

Ortomosaico térmico

It should be noted that, when making subsequent revisions, working with georeferenced information will allow you to make time comparisons very easily. As well as being able to compare it with other wavelengths, such as the visible spectrum.

If you have any doubt regarding this article or others related to Thermal Mapping, do not hesitate to consult us. Leave us your comment.