India is on a quest to achieve the solar energy target of 100 GW by 2022. Worldwide as well, solar power is witnessing increased acceptance and application. For the same, technological advancements for maintaining solar PV plants are also witnessing a positive growth.
Maintaining solar PV plants has become increasingly easier owing to technological advancements in robotics. From drones combined with thermal imaging to the robotic cleaning crew for large-scale solar PV plants, automation and robotics are constantly evolving for the cleaning and maintenance of solar PV plants.
Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and advanced robotics are steadily becoming a major part of maintaining and cleaning solar power plants. This, in turn, could lead to the widespread adoption of solar energy with hassle-free, unmanned solutions in place for regular maintenance.
Security and theft prevention
Advanced robots powered by artificial intelligence (AI) help cruise the large solar power plant area and ensure safety. Where CCTV cameras might fail, these surveillance robots monitor the entire area detecting movements and capturing videos. By transmitting images to a single source, these robots can prevent any mishaps and thefts at all times. The human identification system in the robots helps them differentiate strangers from authorized personnel.
Birds can often lead to inefficiencies in solar power panels, thus hampering power generation. Robots designed for bird control can help combat this problem. Automatically cruising the site and equipped with a bird scaring system, advanced robotic systems in place ensure that the panels are not damaged.
Dust can reduce the efficiency of solar panels significantly. Therefore, regular panel cleaning is a must. Manual solar panel cleaning involves the use of water to clean the panels. This may lead to water wastage regularly and on a much large scale. Robots that use less water and use microfibre cloth help tackle this problem.
Constant innovations are also being done to find more solutions to the water wastage problem and to ensure that solar power plants remain sustainable and easy to maintain.
Drones combined with thermal imaging have the potential to reduce maintenance costs for large-scale solar plants. These are a highly efficient alternative compared to handheld thermal inspections and augment the ease of maintenance of large-scale solar PV plants.
With drones at the task, solar technicians need not manually walk the vast rows of solar farms. This increases the accuracy of the data as well.
Detecting hotspots, cleaning water issues, loss of generation due to shadows, and deterioration of solar panels is all possible with drones. This helps in taking timely steps to prevent further loss of energy.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own, and do not necessarily reflect those held by pv magazine.
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