DroneBase debuts standardized solar asset ratings as part of nationwide service

By Chris Crowell September 15, 2022

DroneBase is expanding its solar scan offering to cover all of North America and is debuting a standardized set of solar asset ratings — assessing power loss, module condition and cell temperature — to provide a complete evaluation of a solar power plant’s condition.

“With the solar industry experiencing substantial scaling, industry professionals are looking for a standardized way to evaluate solar asset conditions. Until now, there has been a lack of transparency and visibility into the overall status and condition of assets,” said Mark Culpepper, general manager of global solar solutions at DroneBase. “Thanks to our scanning capabilities, we provide deep and broad data sets and bring a universal understanding on the condition of solar power plants.”

Conducted via manned aircraft, the North American Solar Scan provides thermal and RGB views of solar assets. Scanned solar plants (1 MW and larger) are automatically assigned three criteria based on aerial photography and thermal scans. Stakeholders can access the data and reports via the DroneBase Solar Insights web platform.

DroneBase’s North American Solar Scan uses a simple three-letter asset rating system, similar to the common investment-grade bond rating system. Each letter represents a specific aspect of a solar site’s overall condition.

The first letter in the rating represents the operating condition of the site. Thermal sensors detect components that are failing to estimate direct current losses at the power plant.The second letter in the rating is an indicator of the highest recorded temperature of photovoltaic cells, with separate parameters for roof-mounted and ground-mounted assets. Elevated temperatures may indicate potential safety or liability risks.Finally, the last letter in the rating reflects the condition of the modules used by comparing the number of anomalies per megawatt peak. More anomalies per megawatt generally indicate more potential problems with the modules on the site.

By providing this analysis and the three-letter rating, DroneBase enables stakeholders to see the condition of solar plants across a geographic area, such as a city, state, or the continental U.S.

Financiers or owners can use the asset ratings to identify potential assets for acquisition or sale. In contrast, O&M service providers can use the data to highlight the excellent rating of the plants they service. Meanwhile, developers and EPCs will be able to leverage the ratings to provide objective evidence of the quality of their work to existing or prospective customers.

Companies, such as DroneBase customer Primergy Solar, that develop, own and operate distributed and utility-scale solar and storage projects, can use the asset rating for various insights to save time and money, through targeted maintenance and preventable downtime.

“Primergy is actively building one of the largest solar + battery projects in the U.S., and DroneBase’s technology is a critical time saver for all involved,” said Adam Larner, chief operating officer of Primergy Solar. “We’re focused on partnering with companies that understand the importance of investing in projects that increase clean power reliability and reduce carbon emissions to create healthier communities and stronger economies. We look forward to continuing to work with DroneBase as they bring additional clarity and insights to the solar industry.”

To date, DroneBase has completed scanning and processing 16 GW of solar plants and 20 percent of large-scale solar-generated power in the U.S. The whole U.S. solar plants market of 1MW or larger — approximately 80GW — will be accessible via the DroneBase Insights platform in the spring of 2023. Customers can subscribe immediately to access the sites scanned in California.

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Tags: DroneBase, utility-scale

Author: systems