Raptor Maps Awarded MassCEC Grant for Real-Time Identification and Classification of PV Faults

Raptor Maps Awarded MassCEC Grant for Real-Time Identification and Classification of PV Faults

Raptor Maps is excited to announce we were recently selected as a finalist for the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center’s (MassCEC) latest round of InnovateMass awardees. We will be collaborating with Enel Green Power (EGP) to develop brand new capabilities combining machine learning with state-of-the-art drones and IR cameras for the inspection of PV systems.

EGP’s North American drone team, which specializes in aerial inspections and management of their PV assets, will be working with Raptor Maps to,

optimize the software for real-time identification and classification of faults onboard the drone, helping make maintenance of solar farms cheaper and more effective.”

The Raptor Maps solar software solution, Raptor Solar™, will be incorporated into field operations to automate their drone data analysis and report generation. The goal is to advance EGP’s drone operations by integrating their hardware with Raptor Maps’ software for real-time identification and classification of solar faults using machine learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Raptor Solar is revolutionizing the solar industry by enabling asset owners/manager (such as Enel Green Power) and O&M teams to have the most advanced system analytics on the DC health of their solar assets.

 

About Enel Green Power, Enel Green Power is dedicated to the development and management of energy production from renewable sources worldwide. They specialize in solar, wind, hydroelectric, geothermal, and biomass energy with over 1,200 active plants in 30 countries. Enel Green Power’s goal is to innovate in the fields of research and production of electrical energy from renewable sources in order to improve the company as well as the communities in which they work. Their sustainability model is changing the way we produce energy around the world.

About Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC), MassCEC is a state economic development agency working to accelerate the growth of clean energy, spur job creation, deliver statewide environmental benefits, and to secure long-term economic growth for the people of Massachusetts. MassCEC is dedicated to increasing the adoption of clean energy. They are active supporters to those making a difference in the sustainable energy sector and deliver financial, environmental, and economic development benefits to energy users and utility customers across the state.

 

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

Webinar Recap: One-on-One with Gresco and Raptor Maps: UAS, Solar Software, and PV System Inspection Reports

Webinar Recap: One-on-One with Gresco and Raptor Maps: UAS, Solar Software, and PV System Inspection Reports

Raptor Maps partnered with Gresco for a webinar covering the specifics of UAS, Solar Software, and PV System Inspection Reports. The goals of the webinar were to break down:  

  • Why UAS (drones) are a valuable tool when it comes to managing and inspecting solar farm(s) for performance issues
  • What drone models and cameras are recommended for performing PV system inspections
  • Opportunities to incorporate drones across the lifecycle of a PV system, from construction to O&M  
  • How teams can turn radiometric (thermal) and RGB data collected during a drone inspection of a solar farm into actionable reports

The entire webinar can be viewed below for anyone who was unable to tune in live. The following is a summary of the central themes discussed in the webinar.

Why UAS (Drones) Are a Valuable Tool for Management and Maintenance of Solar Assets

Aerial drone asset inspections have become the most effective and comprehensive method of solar maintenance and management. Drones provide an eye in the sky and help asset owners and managers cut the time and manpower needed to keep their PV systems operating efficiently. Construction progress monitoring, site selection, and preventative maintenance inspections of solar assets are only a few of the many ways drones provide value to utilities, renewable energy, and engineering companies working in the solar industry.

Companies involved in the construction of PV systems can use weekly drone scans and data analytics to deliver inspection reports that track progress, evaluate growth, and stay on schedule for project completion. Aerial inspection data also allows for comparison between different parts of a site or different sites across your portfolio, to properly maintain and manage your solar installations. As a tool for site selection, asset owners can get the data to help them evaluate sites with topographic, grade, and shading considerations, and determine the best location for their solar project.

 

What Drone Models and Cameras are Recommended for Performing PV System Inspections

Raptor Maps and Gresco suggest specific types of hardware when it comes to flying solar. The most important is a multi-copter drone, that can be mounted with a radiometric (thermal) camera, and has extended flight times to accommodate larger PV system inspections. The DJI Matrice 200 series drone is a highly recommended model that checks off all boxes for these inspections.

For solar farm inspections, we suggest performing two flights as part of your data collection or flying with a camera that allows you to collect both radiometric (thermal) data and RGB imagery simultaneously, such as the DJI Zenmuse XT2. We strongly recommend a radiometric 13mm 640x512 30Hz camera model IR solar inspections.

To learn more about why you should inspect a solar farm with an infrared AND a high-resolution color (RGB) imaging camera click here.

 

Opportunities to Incorporate Drones Across the Lifecycle of a PV System

Drones and the data they generate are used by a wide range of individuals in the solar industry. Field technicians and asset owners may simply look at the aerial images to gain a better knowledge about the functionality of the solar farm. However, others have a robust profile in Raptor Maps to analyze the identified defects that are reducing the production of their PV systems.

Raptor Maps software turns your drone inspection data into comprehensive system analytics and actionable reports. This allows solar asset owners, performance managers, and field technicians to stay up to date on the health of their PV system, drive productivity, and reduce costs.

 

How Raptor Maps Enables Teams to Turn UAS Data Into Actionable Reports

Raptor Maps software provides detailed inspection data analysis using artificial intelligence and machine learning for both thermal and high-resolution color imagery of solar farms from 100 kWp to 300+ MWp.

Raptor Maps software automatically produces a PV system inspection report with analytics generated during data review. Identified anomalies are classified by type and localized within the site, enabling technicians to effectively respond to site defects. We offer a sample PV system report here.

Comprehensive reports help Asset Management and O&M isolate areas with the most loss, identify root causes, confirm site commissioning, and provide the proof needed for warranty claims with the EPC or module manufacturer.

 

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

 

About Gresco, Gresco Technology Solution is a division of Gresco Utility Supply, Inc. For more than 50 years, Gresco has served the utility and electrical supply needs of hundreds of customers in the Southeast region. It is their mission to serve their industry partners in a manner that exceeds expectations, at a price that is within your budget. Gresco understands that you have commitments to fulfill with your customers, just as they do to you. ­­­Gresco has extensive experience working with; Rural Electric Co-Operatives (Co-Ops), Investor Owned Utilities (IOUs), Municipals (Munis), and Contractors.

5 Benefits of Using Drones for PV System Inspections

5 Benefits of Using Drones for PV System Inspections

Drones are revolutionizing how solar farms are inspected, operated, and maintained. They’re making solar site inspections faster, safer, and delivering more accurate reports on the overall DC health of a site. In this post, we will break down the 5 main ways drones deliver value when used for performing PV system inspections. Whether you’re an asset owner, performance manager, field technician, or a service provider, drones provide unmatched value when it comes to inspecting PV systems from the air.

1. Comprehensive Coverage

Applying drone technology to PV system inspections has allowed for more accuracy than previously possible with manual field tests, ie. I-V curve tracing. Performing manual inspections of solar farms is extremely timely, labor-intensive, and leaves room for error. The amount of time it takes to perform these tests can also lead to variation in the test results. By taking aerial footage of an entire solar asset in a short period of time (a couple hours), you eliminate inconsistencies and avoidable errors in your inspection data. O&M teams that have implemented drones in their workforce have reported reducing time on site by 90%.

 

2. Enhanced Visibility

During manual inspections, every individual module cannot be analyzed, therefore anomalies are frequently overlooked. Use of drones to perform aerial thermography inspects all issues within a solar site down to the cell level. By capturing detailed imagery/data of the entire PV system, teams are able to identify, classify, and localize each anomaly and understand the performance impact. Technicians are then able to quickly prioritize anomalies by the level of severity, visit each anomaly, and make appropriate repairs.

 

3. Site Safety

In order to manually check that a solar farm is operating at maximum capacity, technicians must periodically open combiners and inverters. Direct interaction with open circuitry is extremely dangerous and puts technicians at risk. Drones drastically reduce this safety risk by localizing defects and pinpointing faults. This eliminates technicians’ unnecessary exposure to electric shock and having to perform inspections from unsafe locations, ie. rooftops.

 

4. Scalability Across Solar Sites

The ability for a drone to access any site location has made it the go-to inspection service for commercial and industrial (C&I) projects. Since C&I sites are typically located in highly populated regions, drone technicians are widely available for hire. Drones allow small teams to also inspect large Utility-scale solar sites in a single day. Instead of sending a team of technicians to find a needle in a haystack, one technician can show up to a site and perform an IR and high-resolution imaging inspection within a few hours. Drones are enabling asset managers to increase the number of sites their teams can manage without adding more skilled technicians.

5. Improved Operational Excellence  

Drone technology maximizes productivity for solar professionals by conducting inspections 10x faster than manually possible. With PV systems encompassing hundreds of thousands of panels, performing aerial thermal and high-resolution inspections has become the most efficient way to detect anomalies (hot spots, soiling, shading, string failures). O&M and asset management in the solar industry are rapidly adopting drone technology in order to optimize their workflow, increase productivity, reduce labor costs, and improve safety.

 

In conclusion, as drone and camera technology continues to develop and local and federal regulations for drones evolve the sky’s the limit for drones in the solar industry.

Looking to incorporate drones into your PV system inspections? Reach out to us here. Want to learn about Raptor Solar? Read more about how our software turns your solar drone inspection data into comprehensive system analytics and actionable reports here.

Live Webinar: One-on-One with Gresco and Raptor Maps: UAS, Solar Software, and PV System Inspection Reports

Live Webinar: One-on-One with Gresco and Raptor Maps: UAS, Solar Software, and PV System Inspection Reports

 

Do you design, build, manage, and/or own PV plants? UAS are quickly becoming common tools used in every stage of a solar project.

From inspecting a site for planning, monitoring construction progress, and even replacing manual preventative maintenance inspections with thermal and high-resolution UAS inspections, drones are helping utility and energy teams lower operating costs, increase system performance, and standardize & compare assets across a portfolio.

Gresco will be hosting a live webinar with their software partners, Raptor Maps. Join Jamie Gose and John Nunes from the UAS team at Gresco Technology Solutions, along with Nikhil Vadhavkar, CEO and co-founder of Raptor Maps, for a discussion on using drones to inspect PV systems and how to convert that information into actionable reports for management and field technicians. There will also be a Q&A.

As drones continue to be adopted by utilities and alternative energy companies, drones and Raptor Maps enable better system performance and reduced operating costs.

What you’ll learn:

  • Why UAS are a valuable tool for utilities and alternative energy companies with solar assets
  • What the recommended drones models and payloads are for utilities and alternative energy companies
  • Opportunities to incorporate drones across the lifecycle of a solar project
  • How Raptor Maps enables teams to turn UAS data into actionable reports

The webinar will be Tuesday the 8th of May, 2018 at 1pm EDT and will be followed by a 30-minute Q&A.

*If you are unable to attend the live webinar, please sign up anyway and we’ll send you the recording.

Raptor Maps Recognized as a Top 5 Software Startup Solving the Biggest Challenges in Solar

Raptor Maps Recognized as a Top 5 Software Startup Solving the Biggest Challenges in Solar

Greentech Media (GTM), a leading platform in the global energy market, recently recognized Raptor Maps as one of the ‘5 Software Startups Solving the Biggest Challenges in Solar’.

Although leveraging drone technology to inspect solar farms has reduced manual labor, analyzing the accumulated data is still a burdensome time commitment for Asset Management and O&M teams. Raptor Maps tackles this shortcoming by applying its AI software solution to automate the entire post-processing of this data. Now, Asset Management and O&M teams don’t have to spend a minute at a computer to identify and localize PV systems issues from the thousands of collected drone images.

GTM also recognized Pick My Solar, Anderson Optimization, Correlate, and Energetic Insurance as software startups disrupting the solar industry. Pick My Solar addresses complications for homeowners interested in buying solar while Anderson Optimization uses modeling software for site planning. Correlate’s platform serves as an energy management service and Energetic Insurance confronts the financial risks of commercial solar projects with a credit wrap insurance policy solution.

 

Raptor Maps, along with these software startups, will be attending the Solar Software Summit on April 30th in San Diego, California. Nikhil Vadhavkar, Raptor Maps CEO and co-founder, will be presenting how solar companies around the world are adopting drones for Asset Management and Operations & Maintenance and how AI software can be used to automate the time-intensive data analyzation process.

About Greentech Media

Greentech Media is the chief information and service provider in this transformative age for global energy. The organization hosts interactive summits and conferences, conducts extensive market research, and delivers news coverage around the world energy market. GTM was founded in 2007 and since has played a major role in connecting individuals and businesses across the clean technology space. Learn more about GTM here.

Webinar Recap: RMUS and Raptor Maps Present the Entire Process of Inspecting a Solar Farm and Creating Reports

Webinar Recap: RMUS and Raptor Maps Present the Entire Process of Inspecting a Solar Farm and Creating Reports

Raptor Maps partnered with RMUS on a webinar to cover the specifics of using drones for the inspection of PV systems (solar farms) with both infrared and high-resolution cameras. The goal of the webinar was to break down how to set up a drone flight (equipment and flight app), how to collect the best data, and an overview of what types of deliverables are most valuable to companies involved in building, owning, and managing these sites.

The entire webinar can be viewed below for anyone who was unable to tune in live. The following is a summary of the central themes discussed in the webinar.

How to Fly and Inspect a Solar Farm with a Drone and Infrared Camera

To minimize the time you spend in the field and the amount of data you have to collect and transfer, it is critical to perform a few practice flights as soon as you purchase your hardware. Familiarizing yourself with how to set up the hardware and how to set up a mission (flights) doesn’t have to be done at a solar farm. We also strongly recommend practicing how to map out both a thermal imaging inspection and a high-resolution imaging inspection.

Ideally, PV inspections should be performed on sunny days with minimal wind and cloud coverage. Less than 25% cloud coverage is ideal. Also, flying in the morning or late afternoon can help avoid issues with glare from the panels, which impacts image quality.

In order to ensure there is no motion blur, you should not fly over 7 mph (3m/s). The flight should be parallel along the solar rows, with 80% overlap (frontlap) in the direction of flight and 20% overlap (sidelap) between passes. We have seen that pointing the camera perpendicular to the flight path (in the direction the solar panels are facing) can result in better data quality as well and quicker processing turnaround time.

Why You Should Also Do a High-Resolution Color Imaging Drone Inspection

Raptor Maps recommends performing two flights as part of the data collection. One primary inspection using a radiometric infrared (thermal) imaging camera, ie. DJI FLIR Zenmuse XT 640x512 30Hz 13mm Lens, and a second inspection using a high-resolution (RGB) color imaging camera, ie. DJI Zenmuse X3.

A thermal imaging camera will allow you to identify issues that cannot be seen with the naked eye and are impacting production of the site. Certain defects found in thermal imagery need to be double-checked against high-resolution images, such as shattering or soiling, to determine the root cause of the anomaly. High-resolution images also capture a higher-level of detail, enabling additional reporting on a PV system. This data can be used to identify potential warranty related issues like delamination and/or create an RGB map of a solar farm with no current satellite imagery available for use as a base-layer in an inspection report.

Why You Should be Delivering a PV System Inspection Report to Your Client and NOT Just a Thermal Map of the Solar Farm

A radiometric orthomosaic (thermal map) is a high-level representation of an area of land that has been captured with a thermal camera and the images have been stitched together. After dozens of meetings with solar companies we have learned that a thermal map is NOT a complete deliverable.

The high altitude solar inspections have to be performed at to produce thermal maps cause you to lose large amounts of image detail and false positives or stitching artifacts are often created. Thermal maps also require at least 4X the number of images to be captured for a map to be created vs an inspection that results in the creation of an image based report. This means a lot more time on site flying and everything involved in long flight time.

In contrast, a report created using the individual thermal and high-resolution imagery allows you deliver more detailed information to the client. Reports generated with Raptor Maps also require much less data to be captured, ie. less overlap, and less time flying a site so you can fly more sites in a day/week.

How Raptor Maps Has Made it Easy for Anyone to Turn Your Raw Solar Farm Inspection Data into a High-Quality PV System Inspection Report

Once you have finished flying both the infrared and high-resolution imaging missions, you most likely have a few thousand photos to analyze before you can create a valuable report. Raptor Maps believes your time is better spent flying more sites or performing other valuable tasks instead of reviewing the large volume of images you’ve captured and then building a report.

We have built software that automates the identification, classification, and localization of anomalies from the drone imagery. The software is able to process the inspection data using AI and machine learning and is able to analyze both thermal and high-resolution color imagery of solar farms from 100 kWp to 300+ MWp.

Raptor Maps software also automatically produces a PV system inspection report with the analytics generated during data review. These reports are suited for performance managers, asset owners, and field technicians. Every identified anomaly is classified by type and localized within the site and assigned coordinates, enabling technicians to quickly visit each anomaly in the field. The primary report also includes site information, details about the actual inspection, and a defect analysis. This is valuable for asset management, as it isolates areas with the most loss and identifies the root causes.

PV inspection reports produced by Raptor Maps are integrated into a clients workflow through an interactive portal which is accessible to third parties, so clients can share with their own clients how the asset is performing. Reports also allow you to track changes over time and compare sites across portfolios, enabling better decisions concerning solar farms over different regions. Raptor Maps software allows asset owners and O&M managers to spend less time reviewing data, allocate less capital towards labor, and grow their portfolios.