Enel Green Power North America, a subsidiary of Enel and Raptor Maps have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the co-development of utility-scale solar asset management technologies.


Image: Enel’s personnel with drones for solar operations and management. Photo: Courtesy of Enel Spa

The two companies will configure Raptor Maps’ existing machine-learning/artificial intelligence (AI) software solution, Raptor Solar, which was developed for post-inspection analysis, and embed it directly into EGPNA’s drone hardware allowing real-time identification and classification solar facilities’ faults streamlining the detection to repair process from days to hours.

Enel Green Power North America head Rafael Gonzalez said: “The partnership with Raptor Maps on this innovative technology goes beyond demonstrations, and implements ground-breaking solution in a responsible and scalable way. By combining the new software with the technologies already implemented in our plants, we have the potential to increase efficiency of our inspections, yield more accurate results and work towards developing a more automated inspection process across all of our solar sites.”

The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) awarded EGPNA and Raptor Maps a prestigious InnovateMass award earlier this year to accelerate commercialization of this innovative technology, partly funding the project.

Raptor Maps head Nikhil Vadhavkar said: “Raptor Solar is revolutionizing the solar industry by enabling owners and operators to capture the most advanced PV system analytics, maximize performance, and reduce operating costs, EGPNA is leading the industry in the scalable implementation of drones to streamline operations, maintenance, and asset management. They are the perfect partner to push this technology to its full potential, and drive efficiency across the entire solar value chain.”

Through this solution the companies are aiming to solve the data post-processing bottleneck that is common in drone inspections across solar plants today reducing the time and labor costs associated with solar infrastructure inspection and creating a faster, more efficient process that cuts out the need to transmit large amounts of data over distance.

Once developed, the pilot program can be replicated across other renewable technologies, and by the end of this year, EGPNA is expected to train and equip thirty field workers with this technology, laying the foundation for intelligent asset management, preventive maintenance, and innovative machine learning/AI for assessing the condition of solar facilities.

EGPNA and Raptor Maps will kick off the project in August by implementing Raptor Solar, across all of EGPNA’s solar assets.

By combining state of the art drone and camera technology with Raptor Maps’ industry leading AI software, the team will be able to simultaneously capture both infrared (thermal) and high-resolution (color) imagery of solar assets, perform post-processing at the source of the data through edge computing, and deliver real-time analytics to assess the condition of the plant. This information will be transmitted in real time to EGPNA’s Maintenance Management System that will create and deliver a work order with actionable items to be evaluated by the site technician, before the drone even lands, streamlining the process from days to hours.

EGPNA is scaling drone training and infrastructure to support the broad use of the technology across its development, engineering and operations groups, to better assess the suitability of new project locations, monitor construction progress and streamline operational maintenance activities.

Source: Company Press Release