Above is excited to be collaborating with EF Solare Italia on digital technologies to better inspect and manage solar plants.
INNOVATION AT THE SERVICE OF PHOTOVOLTAICS: EF SOLARE’S PROJECT FOR THERMOGRAPHIC ANALYSIS THROUGH DRONES
EF Solare has always worked by analyzing carefully the different opportunities that technological innovation can provide, with the aim of driving the development of the photovoltaic sector. Innovation is a fundamental key to achieve the national decarbonisation goals and to support a correct energy transition: for this reason EF Solare, thanks to the work and care of its people, has introduced important innovations in the tools used for maintenance activities in order to improve the value of its plants and their performance.
Through a punctual monitoring it is possible to carry out efficient maintenance interventions, which are fundamental to guarantee certain performance levels of the plants. The Group has, therefore, felt the need to enhance the use of technologies for the analysis of photovoltaic panels, such as thermographic analysis by drones. This analysis allows to identify the main problems of malfunctioning of the photovoltaic modules (for example hot spot) through the measurement of temperature variations between the different parts of the modules. The thermography through the use of drones has therefore become the protagonist in EF Solare of a multi-year project that provides for a variable number of inspections on all plants, depending on the problems found, for a total of about 2GW over 3 years. Thanks to more reliable results and a reduction of costs, the thermographic analysis through drones has gone from being mainly a corrective diagnostic tool to identify the need for extraordinary maintenance, such as revamping and repowering, to being also a useful tool to support ordinary maintenance activities.
The EF Solar project
After special trials and comparisons with the reference market, starting from the first months of 2020, the Operations Support & Optimization team, together with a specialized international partner, started the multi-year project of using drones for the thermographic analysis of the panels of EF Solare’s plant portfolio.
The entire Operations area of the company has conducted a work of great coordination that has allowed to carry out inspections in all the over 300 plants of the Group located all over the country, starting from those with the most critical issues. In the last month, the second round of activities in the field has been completed which, in 10 weeks, allowed to inspect more than 150 plants for about 400MW of installed power, demonstrating how much the time for data collection has been reduced compared to manual thermographs made in previous years. In addition, an innovative web-based platform has been developed, which allows practical and fast use of the data from the thermographs, with particular focus on the status and producibility of the modules, in order to plan timely any interventions.
Thanks to this new digital tool, in fact, EF Solare has been able to obtain more and more detailed and continuous analysis over time, developing a valid and accurate overview in order to optimize the activities of ordinary and extraordinary maintenance planning, consequently, in a more effective way any revamping and repowering to guarantee and improve the performance of the plants.
Starting from a pre-existing need, the new technologies in the field of analysis and reporting have therefore provided EF Solare’s Operations team with a new important possibility of technological application not only for the Group but also for the entire sector, focusing on the relevance of monitoring and maintenance activities for the achievement of decarbonisation targets by 2030, thanks to the valorisation and optimisation of existing plants.