Solar Field Inspections

*As noted in the white paper published by EPRI (http://www.epri.com/abstracts/Pages/ProductAbstract.aspx?ProductId=000000003002006216) 

TFM and Associates Inc.

TFM conducts a wide array of aerial inspections on various industrial facilities. One area in

which we are particularly suited is in the inspection of large utility sized photovoltaic fields.

Our drones are equipped with high-definition thermal imaging cameras that can detect

malfunctioning modules, specifically hot-spots, which reduce electricity production. Other

errors such as micro-cracks, snail trails, potential induced degradation, ribbon solder bond

failures and others, can also be identified. Regular observation and maintenance of solar

fields is a means for avoiding unplanned plant downtimes and associated revenue losses

caused by undetected module, inverter, or connection failures. 


As an additional service TFM’s UAV thermal imaging camera can be changed for a high

                                                                                    resolution visual camera. By contrasting previous

                                                                                    visual data (from last inspection) to new visual

                                                                                    data, ground maintenance crews can easily

                                                                                    pinpoint new growth to be trimmed (greenery

                                                                                    control). This birds eye data can also be used to

                                                                                    help optimize panel cleaning schedules. Why a 

                                                                                    drone service as opposed to other methods?  

                                                                                    Although beneficial to maintaining solar plant

                                                                                    health, manual infrared (IR) inspections of

                                                                                    photovoltaic modules and other components 

                                                                                    are not frequently performed by clients. This is 

                                                                                    commonly due to the large time commitment and

labor cost of conducting module-by-module traversals of a portion of a plant. Meanwhile,

performing IR inspection via manned aircraft flyovers on a regular basis is also largely cost

prohibitive. As a result, asset owners tend to authorize one-time inspections during the year

prior to the expiration of module warranties in order to address any detected issues via

warranty claims. However, drones, by virtue of their design and operation, offer the potential to

execute IR inspections more often, comprehensively, and cost-effectively. The upshot: the ability

to more proactively track system performance and enact preventative maintenance strategies

targeted at achieving long-term plant health*.


Please contact TFM today about developing a plan for your facility. By partnering with industry

leaders and innovators TFM is on the cutting edge of unmanned robotic inspections and will

remain there. Let us leverage new and emerging technologies for you and put them to work

driving down cost and ramping up efficiency at your facility.