The goal is to realize efficient and automated system for solar module inspection and optimize energy production (i.e. high yield and warranty claims) in large scale solar installations. Solar is the fastest growing segment in the energy industry, because of the simple installation and short time to production. Solar farms now contain more than 1 million individual modules, requiring larger space and continuous maintenance for keeping high productivity. Having recently changed its name, Equinor (formerly Statoil) has a mission to invest in renewable energy and to develop its business within green energy. Through joint ventures with Scatech Solar, Equinor intends to use the global presence to expand the portfolio to become a diversified energy company where solar will be part of Equinor new businesses to put the company at the front of green energy industries. An efficient, automated and autonomous inspection and analysis system will be an important tool for both monitoring their investment and optimizing the yield. Manual inspection of solar systems in the field is common today. Interpretation of the IR thermal images is complicated by artefacts that appear in data and dirt on modules, which may not be easily distinguishable from faults. Also, correlation between visual and electrical data is often not practical. With the large installations of today, manual inspection is no longer efficient. Therefore, sophisticated approaches are necessary to determine when defects have a sufficient impact on the energy production to warrant replacement of solar modules. This project aims to realize fault models from the field arrays, high-resolution and multispectral sensing for automated airborne monitoring and inspection from remote distances. Machine learning will be established to correlate inspection with electrical data to evaluate the impact of the defects on the production. A cost-benefit analysis will be integrated to control the operation and maintenance of solar farms.
Project leader: Ahmed Nabil Belbachir
Institution: EQUINOR ASA