Automated drone-in-a-box hardware and service developer Percepto has put the finishing touches on the aerial network that will be used for regular inspection and data analysis of a giant floating solar power farm in Thailand, reputed to be among the world’s largest.
Percepto announced today that it has successfully completed the proof-of-concept phase of its automated drone inspection network for the solar power farm floating in the waters of the Sirindhorn dam basin, some 410 miles east of Bangkok. The enormous grid of 145,000 panels occupies an area equivalent to about 70 soccer fields, and is positioned about 350 meters away from the nearest bank. When that field stops collecting sunlight at night, the dam takes over generating electricity from water flows.
To keep the system operating at top efficiency, Percepto’s artificial intelligence-enhanced, automated UAVs – operating off the company’s Autonomous Inspection and Monitoring software package – will conduct regular inspection flights of the farm’s solar panels, and identify those requiring maintenance work or damage or breakdown repairs. The one-stop Percepto platform can also oversee its own mission and fleet management, in addition to data collection and analysis. The company says its monitoring solution can also assess risk, minimize downtime, drive efficiency, increase safety, and reduce operational costs.
Percepto’s aerial network will vastly reduce the need for humans to access the massive patchwork of solar panels by boat to perform manual inspections amid climatic conditions that can involve extreme heat, pelting rain, and fog. Though Thai regulations require one person to be in the area at the time of flights, Percepto drones will otherwise be operated automatically or from remote locations.
The $34 million floating solar power field was connected to Thailand’s electrical grid in October, and is one of several similar sustainable projects the country is preparing to reduce its reliance on imported legacy fuels. Assuring its assembly of solar panels, substations, transformers, and flotation devices continues functioning at top capacity is the sole objective of Percepto’s autonomous drone inspection work for its Electrical Engineering Authority of Thailand (EGAT) client.
“Autonomous drones are strengthening the sustainable positioning of renewable energy facilities to achieve global climate targets,” said Percepto CEO Dor Abuhasira. “With Percepto drones, solar farms such as EGAT can be consistently monitored and inspected regardless of their size or location to further unleash the potential of renewable energy sources.”
“Percepto drones will dramatically improve the consistency at which the panel provides customers with electricity, how quickly repairs are made, and the safety level of our employees,” added EGAT chief of fuel business development, Chanapan Kongnam. “Rather than sending out staff to inspect the panel, we will deploy inspections much more frequently than could be achieved manually. Staff are only sent out when repairs are necessary, and they will know the nature of the problem and where it will be located to spend as little time on the water as possible.”