Major Solar Operations and Maintenance (O&M) Provider SOLV, Inc., a Swinerton Company, Selects Raptor Maps as its Partner for Nationwide Drone Inspections

Major Solar Operations and Maintenance (O&M) Provider SOLV, Inc., a Swinerton Company, Selects Raptor Maps as its Partner for Nationwide Drone Inspections

Source: Swinerton Renewable Energy, https://www.instagram.com/p/BvHRvMLHv_L/

SOLV will use Raptor Maps’ industry-leading AI analytics and reporting software for all PV plant drone inspections performed by the SOLV team

Raptor Maps, a Boston-based software company focused on helping enterprise solar companies adopt drone technology to reduce asset management costs and increase plant production, is proud to announce that it has been chosen to support SOLVs drone operations in regards to post-processing and reporting on PV plant inspections. Raptor Maps software will be used for all commercial, industrial, and utility-scale solar installations managed by the SOLV team across the US, totaling over 4 GW of solar PV assets.

“Aerial thermography has become a valuable tool in SOLV’s offering as a solar O&M provider to maximize DC health.  The ability to perform these inspections internally makes us more efficient and allows us to scale operations, passing those savings on to our clients.  A major challenge of aerial thermography is how to process and generate reports once a site has been inspected. SOLV evaluated a dozen companies that provide drone inspection imagery data processing and report generation and found Raptor Maps to be the best solution in the market for our specific needs.  Raptor Maps enables us to quickly and effectively perform the drone inspection, can support our wide range of sites under management, and provides clear and actionable reports for our field team on what items need to be fixed versus monitored,” said Reegan Moen, Business Development Manager of SOLV, Inc., a Swinerton company.

SOLV has consistently been named the number one service provider in the global solar operations & maintenance (O&M) market by GTM Research and SOLICHAMBA. SOLV has already been using Raptor Maps’ software over the last 12 months to process, manage, and report on the aerial thermography inspections of more than 50 PV plants.

The software platform automates the review of the tens of thousands of infrared (thermal) and high-definition color images captured during a drone solar farm inspection, identifying and localizing DC-health and environmental anomalies impacting plant performance. Analytics generated from the inspection are delivered inside the Raptor Maps web-based software platform, with specifics provided on the exact location of each anomaly following existing location tags, each anomaly’s impact on energy production, and a prioritization of all issues for streamlined decision making regarding further investigation in the field.

As SOLV looks to further roll out drone inspections, they will be utilizing Raptor Maps to analyze and report on all PV plant inspections performed in 2019. They will also be collaborating with Raptor Maps to explore software integrations between the Raptor Maps platform and enterprise asset management and monitoring tools used internally.

“SOLV is laser-focused on increasing the bottom line for its renewable energy clients,” said Nikhil Vadhavkar, Raptor Maps’ CEO. “We are delighted to support their in-house performance experts with state-of-the-art software to maximize energy production and minimize risk.”

About Raptor Maps

Raptor Maps provides software for artificial intelligence and PV system analytics, and has built the most enterprise-friendly data model in the industry. The company analyzed more than 4,000 MW (4 GW) of PV systems in 2018 across 6 continents. Its analytics are in compliance with both asset owner requirements and infrared thermography standards. The company is headquartered in Boston, MA USA and founded by MIT engineers. For more information about Raptor Maps, please visit www.raptormaps.com.

About Swinerton Renewable Energy

Swinerton Renewable Energy (SRE) offers engineering, procurement, construction, and SOLV® O&M services for solar photovoltaic plants throughout North America to a diverse range of clients. Over 130 years of building landmark projects, Swinerton has forged a reputation for unsurpassed safety, workmanship, on-time delivery, and customer satisfaction. Today, our team takes pride in building cost-effective solar systems that will generate reliable, clean power for many years to come. SRE has delivered over 3.5 GW solar projects and our SOLV team manages over 5GW of PV plants. Learn more about Swinerton Renewable Energy at swinertonrenewable.com.

For more information on the Raptor Maps software platform please click here or fill out our Contact US form on this page.

     

© 2018 Raptor Maps, Inc.

info@raptormaps.com

444 Somerville Ave.
Somerville, MA 02143

How to Inspect a Solar Farm FASTER

How to Inspect a Solar Farm FASTER

How to Reduce Your Drone Solar Farm Inspection Time & Costs by 75%

This is the first of several articles posted in a series to help you understand how to successfully inspect a solar farm with a drone and thermal camera. The goal of this specific post is to clarify how to reduce your drone solar inspection and flight time by more than 75%* by adjusting the sidelap (lateral overlap) of your drone flight to 20%.

Time is money. The more time you spend working on something (drone inspection) the more expensive that task becomes. There are also only so many hours in the day. The longer a specific task (drone inspection) takes to complete the more days you will have to spend working on that task before it is successfully completed.

Over the last 12 months Raptor Maps has helped UAV (drone) pilots inspect over 500 PV sites. For each inspection the goal was to;

  • #1 Capture the highest quality data (imagery),
  • #2 Perform the inspection in the least amount of time so the pilot can move on to the next scheduled solar farm inspection that day/week
  • #3 Deliver a final report to the client that includes all identified anomalies with locations and images of each anomaly

Because our focus is high quality data and to cover as much ground in a single flight as possible, we have come to the conclusion that a solar farm inspection should not be performed as a thermal mapping mission.

Why? Because thermal maps (orthomosaics) require extremely large amounts of data to be collected, hundreds of thousands of images in most cases. This type of data takes a very long time to collect and is low quality. Additionally, the software programs used to create thermal maps do not have a 100% success rate. On average the software will fail to produce a usable thermal map 20-30% of the time. Why waste your time and money on something that is not a quality product and may not even result in a successful end result?

To reduce your inspection flight times, and collect the highest quality imagery, you should adjust your sidelap (lateral overlap) to 20% and abandon the idea of creating a thermal map. This will allow you to reduce your drone PV inspection time by 75% and produce higher quality reports and deliverables with both radiometric thermal and high-definition visual spectrum imagery of the solar site inspected.

The goal of every aerial PV system inspection is to identify the condition of the system and potential issues that are currently unknown. You do not need to make a thermal map to correctly identify and accurately localize the PV system anomalies that are affecting performance. Instead of relying on an low quality thermal map to find anomalies, image-based post-processing software solutions like Raptor Maps can be used instead. These software solutions can  process this smaller, faster-to-collect dataset (imagery) and identify, classify, and localize all solar farm anomalies. Additionally this dataset will always create a valuable and usable final deliverable 100% of the time.

By reducing your sidelap (lateral overlap) down to 20% you can increase the amount of PV plant you are able to inspect by 400%. You can now inspect an entire solar farm in 1 day that used to take 4 days. You can now inspect 4 PV systems in 1 day (when they are close to each other) instead of the project taking 4 days. This small adjustment to your solar farm inspection flight plan will greatly increase your ROI.

If you would like to learn more about how to inspect a solar farm in the least amount of time please contact us HERE or email us directly through info@raptormaps.com. We can also help you learn more about our software that converts your inspection imagery into final reports that are accurate and easy to use for asset management and maintenance.

*This number is based on the comparison of 80/20 overlap in your thermal flight plan to the industry standard 85/85 overlap of a thermal mapping flight plan.

 

     

© 2018 Raptor Maps, Inc.

info@raptormaps.com

444 Somerville Ave.
Somerville, MA 02143

Solar Software Industry Leaders Raptor Maps will Support Cypress Creek Renewables’ Self-Operated Drone Inspections

Solar Software Industry Leaders Raptor Maps will Support Cypress Creek Renewables’ Self-Operated Drone Inspections

Raptor Maps, a Boston-based software company focused on helping enterprise solar companies adopt drone technology to reduce asset management costs and increase plant production, is excited to announce that it has reached an agreement with one of the US’ leading solar companies, Cypress Creek Renewables, to support their internal UAS team with data-analytics and reports from PV plant inspections. Raptor Maps software will be used by the Cypress Creek UAS team to automate the processing and generate reports on over 300 drone solar inspections to be performed in 2019.

“We realized early on that a robust Aerial Thermography program was something we wanted to pursue.  We started scanning sites in 2016 and in early 2017, ordering a fleet of drones and staffing a team of electrical engineers and qualified technicians to lead our Reliability Engineering program.  We quickly found that combining technical analysis with boots on the ground resulted in improved facility performance and reduced O&M costs by minimizing truck rolls,” said Kyle Cooper, Vice President of Operations and Maintenance of Cypress Creek Renewables.

Cypress Creek Renewables, one of the largest integrated solar energy companies in the U.S. has developed one of the leading internal UAS programs for the inspection of PV plants, with over 3 GW of self-performed solar drone inspections since inception. The company has worked with Raptor Maps on a proof-of-concept pilot over the last several months. After successful completion of this 150 MW pilot, they decided to roll-out the Raptor Maps solution on all solar inspections in 2019 and the following years.

“We are very excited to work with Raptor Maps to further develop a platform that pushes our industry-leading Aerial Thermography program to the next level.  The Raptor Maps team has developed a solution that has added excellent value to Cypress Creek O&M. This partnership allows our Reliability Engineering team to focus on inspections, repairs, and analysis and leave the heavy lifting of reviewing thousands of images for anomalies to automation without measurable impacts to accuracy.  The partnership will lead to improved report turnaround time, more time devoted to inspections and repairs, and most importantly improved facility performance for our customers,” said Kyle Cooper.

The software platform automates the review of the tens of thousands of infrared (thermal) and high-definition (digital color) images captured during a solar farm inspection, identifying and localizing DC-health and environmental anomalies impacting plant performance. Analytics generated from the inspection are delivered inside the Raptor Maps web-based software platform, with specifics provided on the exact location of each anomaly following internal naming conventions, each anomaly’s affect on plant production, and a prioritization of all issues for streamlined decision making regarding further investigation in the field. Software modifications were made by Raptor Maps with input from the Cypress Creek UAS team to ensure all reporting met the organizations internal requirements. Final inspection results can be downloaded locally as a final report in several formats or can be viewed online by anyone involved with the PV asset.

Raptor Maps has developed  it’s industry-leading data analytics and reporting software platform over the past 3 years. The company analyzed and delivered reports on over 4 GW of solar PV in 2018. Raptor Maps is excited to support the Cypress Creek UAS team with their internal drone operations and share it’s experience with the team to help them reduce costs and increase efficiencies.

“We are proud to support Cypress Creek Renewables,” explains Nikhil Vadhavkar, Raptor Maps’ CEO. “They run a highly professional operation and are focused on scalability while simultaneously increasing quality. The CCR team shares our vision for enterprise software that increases production, enables data-driven decision making, and is compatible with its IT ecosystem.”

About Raptor Maps

Raptor Maps provides software for artificial intelligence and PV system analytics, and has built the most enterprise-friendly data model in the industry. The company analyzed more than 4,000 MW (4 GW) of PV systems in 2018 across 6 continents. Its analytics are in compliance with both asset owner requirements and infrared thermography standards. The company is headquartered in Boston, MA USA and founded by MIT engineers. For more information about Raptor Maps, please visit www.raptormaps.com.

About Cypress Creek Renewables

Cypress Creek believes solar makes the world cleaner and healthier. Our team successfully develops, builds and operates solar facilities across the United States. With more than 3 gigawatts of solar deployed in more than a dozen states, Cypress Creek Renewables is one of the country’s leading solar companies. For more information about Cypress Creek Renewables, please visit www.ccrenew.com.

For more information on the Raptor Maps software platform please click here or fill out our Contact US form on this page.

     

© 2018 Raptor Maps, Inc.

info@raptormaps.com

444 Somerville Ave.
Somerville, MA 02143

Raptor Maps Releases 2019 Global Solar Aerial Thermography Report

Raptor Maps Releases 2019 Global Solar Aerial Thermography Report

Raptor Maps, the global leader in aerial thermography software, released a first of its kind industry report on the factors that most affect production. The company leveraged its data repository of digital photovoltaic (PV) systems to query 2,900 MW across 18 countries and 6 continents to help PV system owners and operators benchmark and improve their portfolios.

Aerial thermography is the practice of assessing and monitoring photovoltaic (PV) system condition using data captured via an aircraft equipped with a thermal camera. The technique is increasingly required by asset owners and financiers for performance verification and risk mitigation.

The study encompassed 13 million modules across 300 PV systems, and showed that on average, 1.7% of production is affected. Classifications included in the study include equipment (e.g., inverter, combiner, tracker), environmental (e.g., shadowing, soiling), and module-level findings (e.g., cracking, delamination, and activated bypass diodes).

“As an industry, we have made tremendous progress in ushering in an era of standardized, scalable modeling and analytical techniques,” explains Edward Obropta, Raptor Maps’ CTO. “The fact that we can encode module-by-module analytics into a global, geospatial PV data structure, and simplify it into a digestible summary, is just the beginning of the bright future that lies ahead for PV.”

Please complete the form on the right to access the report.

     

© 2018 Raptor Maps, Inc.

info@raptormaps.com

444 Somerville Ave.
Somerville, MA 02143

The fastest way to obtain your Remote Pilot certification under the small UAS rule (Part 107)

The fastest way to obtain your Remote Pilot certification under the small UAS rule (Part 107)

Welcome to the Raptor Maps guide to obtaining a Remote Pilot certification. You may hear the Remote Pilot certification referred to as the “Part 107,” as this certification enables you to fly small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS) as specified by Part 107 of the Federal Aviation Regulations. Passing the test and earning your Remote Pilot certification is a simple, straightforward process.

There are 2 steps to obtaining your Remote Pilot Certification:

  1. Pass a knowledge test at an approved test center
  2. Apply for a Remote Pilot Certification on the FAA website (this is also the background check form)

To be eligible, you must be at least 16 years old, English-speaking, in good health, have valid government ID, and pass the TSA background check.

Obtaining the Remote Pilot certification is a fast process

Pre-Test: Grab your driver’s license or passport, and call CATS at (844) 704-1487 to schedule the test as soon as you want. Most test centers have wide availability.

  • Day 1: Test day. Visit the test center and pass the knowledge test with a 70% or more.
  • Day 2-3: Your 17-digit Exam ID will have populated in the FAA database. Apply for your remote pilot license on the FAA ICARA web platform.
  • Day 7-10: Your ICARA application should be processed and you will receive your certificate.*

*You will receive a temporary certificate, and a permanent one will arrive in the mail.

Typical FAA test center setup.

Finding a test center. You can find your nearest authorized test center here. They are typically flight schools. It is helpful to know which centers are closest to you and inform CATS; otherwise, you may be directed somewhere inconvenient.

Who is CATS? CATS is a test company owned by PSI Services LLC that holds the contract with the FAA to handle the scheduling for the Remote Pilot knowledge test. Just tell them which test centers are near you and they will check the schedule. You will pay for the test when you schedule, so have your credit card handy.

Step 1: The Test

This aeronautical knowledge test (i.e. test) is meant to ensure that you can safely operate sUAS in the National Airspace System in a safe manner. Much of it is common sense (should you yield to manned aircraft?), and what’s not common sense is found on the test supplement that you’re given when taking the test.

Airspace is important to understand, but the actual numbers (altitude floor, ceiling) are available to you on test day via the chart legend in the supplement.

If you have no aeronautical knowledge, do not come from a science or engineering background, and have no familiarity with drones, plan on 10-15 hours total of study time to get yourself up to speed. Otherwise, plan on 5 hours or fewer.

  • The test consists of 60 multiple-choice (A, B, or C) questions.
  • 70% (42 correct questions) is a passing score.
  • The test costs $150.
  • If you do not pass, you can re-take the test after 14 days.

Upon passing your test, you will immediately receive a custom, 17-digit Exam ID number that is unique to the test you just took. This is the number that links your FAA application (Step 2) with your passing test score.

How to study for the Remote Pilot knowledge test

Disclaimer: This is the most efficient method we know for studying for (and passing) the Remote pilot knowledge test. Everyone learns differently, and it is your responsibility to learn the material to safely and legally operate sUAS in the National Airspace System.

  1. Skim the FAA knowledge test study guide, available here. Take note of what you are familiar with, and what’s new to you.
  2. Read the free 3DR study guide, available here. Every word. Especially the Regulations Cheat Sheet.
  3. Do the first 60 questions of the 3DR practice exam, available here. For every question you get wrong, go back to either the FAA study guide or the 3DR study guide and learn the material.
  4. Do the remaining 70 questions of the 3DR practice exam. If this feels comfortable, you’re already ready for the test.
  5. Download the study guide from Rupprecht Law, available here. Read the first 11 pages (until you get to the text blocks copied from the Code of Federal Regulations). Skip down to Part 107 (§107) and read this entire section. Do not do the practice test in the .PDF, as it’s available in a better, interactive format.
  6. Take the interactive 65 question test from Rupprecht Law, available here. You will need to scroll partway down the page to find it.

Do not bother with the FAA practice exam, available here if you’re curious. 3DR and Rupprecht used all those questions to build their practice tests, so you will have seen them already.

3 Myths about the Remote Pilot knowledge test

Myth: Scheduling the test is difficult.
Fact: Most flight schools and test centers are open on Saturday and Sunday, and will have immediate availability. We have seen customers schedule the test on a Saturday night and take it the following Sunday morning.

Myth: I need to buy expensive books and access to online classes.
Fact: All of the resources you need are easily accessible and free. See our links to the best free online study guides below.

Myth: I need to be an expert in aviation to pass the exam.
Fact: You should memorize the NATO alphabet if you’ve ever conducted business on the phone and want to clarify M as in “Mike” vs. N as in “November,” but that will not be on the test. For weather, if you can remember TS means “Thunderstorm,” SH means “Showers” and RA means “Rain”, you’re 80% of the way there.

Step 2: The Application

Visit https://iacra.faa.gov/ and register (gray box in the upper-right corner). Or log in if you’ve already done this before.

Click on “Start New Application” and 1) Application Type “Pilot”, 2) Certifications “Remote Pilot”, 3) Other Path Information, 4) Start Application

Fill out the form. Under “Basis of Issuance” you will find the area to enter your 17-digit Exam ID.

It takes 24-48 hours for your exam results to populate in the FAA database, so if you see this error, wait another day.

Submit your application, and wait for your TSA background check to be completed. No further action is required on your part, and your temporary Remote Pilot certificate will be emailed to you. The glossy card will arrive a couple weeks later.

     

© 2018 Raptor Maps, Inc.

info@raptormaps.com

444 Somerville Ave.
Somerville, MA 02143

10 Most Common PV System Anomalies Detected by Drones (Part B)

10 Most Common PV System Anomalies Detected by Drones (Part B)

 

Solar companies involved in the design, build, management, and/or maintenance of PV systems are increasingly moving to UAS (drones) to replace field work that take large amounts of time and money. Field walks, IV curve tests, voltage checks, and handheld thermal scans of modules are just a few examples of tasks being replaced with drones by O&M teams around the world. Drones set up with both thermal (IR) and high-resolution (RGB) imaging cameras allow for common mislabeled anomalies (ie. soiling) to be properly identified and not mistaken for module hot spots.

 

In this “Part B” post we are going to cover additional PV system anomalies that can be identified during an aerial solar site inspection performed by a drone. If you missed out on reading “Part A” of  10 Most Common PV System Anomalies Detected by Drones click here.

 

Before we get started, it’s important to make sure you’re familiar with the general workings of PV systems. This is a must when it comes to inspecting solar sites effectively with a drone. Here’s a quick breakdown:

Solar sites → A solar site can have hundreds of rows→ Single or multiple strings are within a row→ Strings are made up of modules→ Modules are made up of several photovoltaic cells (Polycrystalline, amorphous, TPV, multi-junction)

 

1. Combiner off-nominal (warm) or offline

Site level issues such as off-nominal or offline combiners pose a serious threat to the efficiency of a PV system. An anomaly of this scale requires immediate maintenance and is always considered an issue of the highest priority. Combiner anomalies are often mistaken for string level issues. However, their identifying quality is when entire rows clustered together present as warm abnormal geometry in your thermal imagery. To determine it is a combiner issue always reference the as-built. Below is an example of a off-nominal or offline combiner.

 

2. Inverter off-nominal (warm) or offline

Inverter anomalies are also a high priority issue that can drastically affect the power production of a solar site. Similar to combiner level issues, inverters present themselves in thermal imagery as multiple rows in a unique geometry that appear warm or offline. Always reference the as-built drawing and site wiring to confirm that it is an inverter issue. Examples of inverter anomalies include:

 

 

3. Discrepancies from as-built – missing modules, incorrect build

Another common anomaly often identified with a drone inspection is discrepancy from the as-built documents, shown through missing modules, or incorrect builds. These differences are often missed from ground level, but easy to identify within an aerial inspection dataset. Before you perform your PV system inspection make sure you have documents such as site information, layout, and as-built diagrams for reference. When entire modules/parts of PV strings are missing, overall DC power production is dramatically affected.

 

4. Weather damage – hail damage, flooding, windstorm, tornado

With little to no protection PV systems are regularly exposed to the elements and extreme weather conditions. Tornadoes, lightning, high-speed winds, hail, and flooding can all cause tremendous damage to solar sites. Large hail can cause cause shattering, while strong winds can uproot and displace modules from their original position. Although it may not be easily identifiable with system monitoring, weather damage can greatly impact PV health/performance and requires immediate attention.

 

5. Delamination and Other Types of Potential Module Anomalies

Delamination and other suspected module defects are commonly found on both new and old sites. Delamination and other module defects can be spotted in either thermal (radiometric) or RGB imagery, depending on the anomaly, and can appear in several forms. They most commonly look similar to:

 

 

 

Are you interested in learning more about UAS, drone inspections of solar assets, and having your data converted into PV analytics and system reports? If so, please contact us here and our team will be in touch.