Aerospec Aerial Inspection ROI: $1,915/MW in Potential Financial savings – Drones Information
Air thermography inspection is the most efficient way for solar PV operations and maintenance (O&M) teams to identify and repair faulty solar panels. Air inspection is nearly ten times faster than traditional inspection methods and provides high quality, actionable insights that can be used to maximize site performance. While it is common knowledge that air thermography can save money managers money, have you ever wondered how much? By drastically reducing the man hours required for the inspection and optimizing the site yield through proactive maintenance, many O&M providers achieve a quick amortization of their investment. Aerospec estimates that by properly performing the air inspection, solar operators can save over $ 1,900 per MW.
To estimate the savings per megawatt, we scanned various industry reports and examined the data provided by our customers in in-depth interviews. We have found that most of the savings are due to the different hourly rates, hardware and software costs between traditional inspection and air thermography inspection. While there are hardware and software costs that are primarily related to air thermography, manual inspections require a much higher hourly rate and are more time consuming. Additional savings were achieved due to the completeness of the inspections and their faster turnaround times. Air thermography helps O&M providers save by finding more errors and fixing them faster.
Traditional field inspections are time consuming, incomplete and expensive. Industry practice is to examine a small sample size of 10-25% of the modules to save time. Assuming a sample size of 20% is used, Aerospec Technologies estimates that it would take a technician approximately 25 hours to inspect 1 MW of foot. At an average wage of $ 35 / hour, inspecting a relatively small 5 MW farm would cost approximately $ 8,750. Note that this is the cost of inspecting only a small sample of a site’s modules and that after inspection, there may still be undetected issues that affect system performance.
On the other hand, air thermography requires a larger initial investment. O&M managers who want to incorporate air inspections into their maintenance procedures must first decide whether to invest in their own hardware and pilots, or to sign a pilot lease. The industry-standard DJI Matrice 210 drone and Zenmuse Flir XT2 thermal imager cost about $ 30,000 together. Aerospec previously found that pilot rentals cost an average of $ 1,862 per day of inspection, excluding additional travel and accommodation costs. Working with an air inspection solution provider is also required to process and analyze data.
While the upfront cost of a UAV program is higher than traditional field walks, there are several benefits that allow asset managers to get the maximum return on their investment. The biggest advantage of air thermography is its speed. A manually controlled drone can collect data ten times faster than an on-site technician with an accuracy of 97%. With autonomous inspection tools like the Aerospec Pilot app, non-piloted drones can carry out preplanned inspections autonomously. The autonomous inspection is almost four times faster than manually controlled drones. It provides more reliable data and eliminates human error. This increase in speed enables a full inspection of a site in a much shorter period of time and ensures that every module has been inspected. Malfunctioning modules, which may not have been detected using traditional inspection methods, are quickly identified and repaired, increasing site yield. An Aerospec customer who manages a large portfolio values that they save $ 383,127 annually by repairing defective modules that would probably not have been discovered during inspections on foot.
In addition, inspection data for air thermography can quickly provide usable information. Aerospec Technologies, the industry leader in report turnaround time, can generate a comprehensive report in 72 hours for operations up to 50 MW and provide reports in hours for areas that need urgent attention. The ability to act quickly and decisively is beneficial for asset managers, especially when commissioning inspections when time is critical. A customer told Aerospec that it has faced a $ 97,000 fine per day that was delayed in commissioning. In these cases, the speed of inspection and reporting is critical.
The speed and completeness of the air inspection reduces technicians’ labor costs while providing a broader view of system performance. O&M managers are likely to find that aerial inspections result in increased revenue when they combine the savings in technician wages with performance gains from proactive maintenance. After calculating the cost of manual and air inspection methods and foregoing profits from defective modules, Aerospec estimates that implementing regular thermographic air inspections into maintenance procedures can save approximately operations and maintenance managers $ 1,916 per MW per inspection compared to traditional field walks.
That’s a lot of batter.
To learn more about how air thermography can lower labor costs and increase your bottom line, visit www.aerospec.us today for more information or to schedule a demo.