Renewable Energy Inspection
1 Wind parks with windmills and solar farms with photovoltaic panels are already a very important energy source for plenty of countries and their importance grows every year. For instance, the wind power industry currently provides jobs for 670,000 people and there are about 225,000 wind turbines all over the world. Statistics show a continuous expansion with nearly a 10% annual growth of the market. In turn, solar power plants increase in number and improve their technology to provide millions of homes with energy.
2 Just the solar power plant in the Mojave Desert, California, generates enough electricity to power 232,500 houses. It is then clear that this is a fundamental sector to meet the energy requirements of the world both at present and in the future. But, far from being perfect, these technologies require good regular inspection techniques for their maintenance and for fault prevention purposes. In this respect, EKOFASTBA provides a privileged view for your inspections.
3 In the wind energy sector, gearbox failure is one of the main causes of faults and its cost accounts for 10% of the total price of the wind turbine. This fault results in inactivity periods twice or three times longer than any other fault in components and it takes about one week to substitute or fix it. Gearboxes fail because of the abrasion, adhesion and continuous rotation they undergo resulting from corrosion and stress due to bending.
4 It has been noticed that before a gearbox fails, it heats up until the heat cannot dissipate and then fails structurally or ends up in fire. Thermal sensors and other remote sensing devices on board of EKOFASTBA’s drones assist the preventive maintenance of these boxes and other components such as motors, blades and towers (just the falling of blades has led to 1,500 accidents and 112 fatal casualties since 2000, as, when they break or snap, blades throw away parts reaching hundreds of meters which can fall into populated areas).
5 In turn, solar panel installations in solar power plants and farms also undergo wear and tear as well as defects along the time, such as interconnection problems, faulty bypass diodes, shortcircuits, photovoltaic cell misfunction or panel breakage. These defects are easily noticeable as hot spots using EKOFASTBA’s thermographic and infrared sensors.
6 Thermal images can be taken under different charge conditions of the cells. Once a defect is detected, if the image is accurately georeferenced by means of GPS, the location, inspection and fixing or replacement of the damaged cells or components is immediate. Moreover, with our technology solar panels do not need to be disconnected to carry out inspection work, thus resulting in significant savings in the costs associated to inactivity.
7 Finally, EKOFASTBA’s NIR and SWIR cameras enable an innovative way of detecting faulty photovoltaic cells, since they use infrared light to detect their electroluminescence with the flow of electric current. We can not only detect whether a cell is in bad condition, but also watch inside each cell in great detail and determine defaults such as inside fragmentations very easily.