Drones are a reliable and adaptable hi-tech tool that can take on missions ranging from simple aerial photos to topographical studies covering several square kilometres. Thanks to the technological features they carry—still cameras, high definition video cameras, thermal imaging cameras—drones are able to contribute to a range of projects: technical inspections, site monitoring or even field surveys for buildings or high voltage lines.
Better control over lead times, costs and risks
Using drones offers several advantages for maintenance and operation: a considerable reduction in risks for humans on sites that are sometimes hard to access, optimisation of the time required to take photos and the associated study costs. This was demonstrated on 18 June 2014 during the inspection of the Sourdun photovoltaic power station (owned by Générale du Solaire), the biggest solar power station in the Paris region. It only took 2 hours to cover the 9 km² of panels and detect the defective solar cells, compared with several days for a standard manual operation.
The advantage of not interrupting production
In addition to these advantages, drones also limit the use of more complex and costly means (helicopters, staff qualified for work at a height, aerial platforms, etc.) and make it possible to inspect structures without stopping operation. For example, there is no need to cut the power to inspect electricity lines, which is a major advantage for our customers in the power sector and avoids inconvenience for end customers.
Data analysis: a real added value
Once the data acquisition flights have been carried out, the volume and richness of the data collected require an in-depth analysis in order to deliver the appropriate report on the state of the structure inspected. Thanks the thirty experts from its in-house study office, Bouygues Energies & Services ensures a detailed analysis of the data, and can make the best recommendations for maintenance plans for facilities, from power lines to photovoltaic power stations.
"The use of drones for thermal inspections of photovoltaic power plants [...] has proven to be the most efficient method for rapidly and accurately identifying any faults in solar panels. This simplifies repair operations and the performance times of our solar power plants are improved. This promising technology is still in its early stages and shows great promise for major developments in the future."
Daniel Bour, CEO of Générale du Solaire