Drones and AI Deployed for Solar Maintenance in Massachusetts

by | Aug 3, 2018


(Photo Courtesy of Enel Green Power North America and Raptor Maps)

Enel Green Power North America (EGPNA) and Raptor Maps signed a deal to co-develop utility-scale solar asset management technologies to optimize the field operations and maintenance of solar assets. Under an MoU signed this week, the two Massachusetts companies plan to configure Raptor Maps’ AI solution so it can be embedded into EGPNA’s drone hardware.

The goal is to allow real-time identification and classification of solar facilities’ faults, streamlining the detection-to-repair process.

“By combining the new software with the technologies already implemented in our plants, we have the potential to increase the efficiency of our inspections, yield more accurate results, and work toward developing a more automated inspection process across all of our solar sites,” said Rafael Gonzalez, head of Enel Green Power North America.

Data post-processing is a common bottleneck with drone inspections across solar plants, according to EGPNA and Raptor Maps. Through the new solution, the companies aim to reduce the time and labor costs associated with infrastructure inspection, creating a faster and more efficient process that removes the need to transmit large data amounts over long distances.

The project kicks off this month with EGPNA implementing Raptor Solar software across all of the renewable energy company’s assets.

“By combining state-of-the art drone and camera technology with Raptor Maps’ industry leading AI software, the team will be able to simultaneously capture both infrared and high-resolution imagery of solar assets, perform post-processing at the source of the data, and deliver real-time analytics to assess the condition of the plant,” the companies said.

That information will get transmitted in real time to EGPNA’s Maintenance Management System, which then creates and delivers a work order with actionable items for the site technician to evaluate before the drone even lands. Previously this process took days. With artificial intelligence software, it should only take hours.

Funding for the project came in part from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, which provided EGPNA and Raptor Maps with an InnovateMass award earlier this year. Once fully developed, the pilot program could be replicated across other renewable technologies, EGPNA and Raptor Maps say.

The companies anticipate that by the end of this year, 30 EGPNA field workers will be trained and equipped with the new technology.

Getting It Done: Mentioned in This Article…

Enel Green Power North America

Raptor Maps

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