According to industry experts say drones, of which usage by civilians was restricted by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in 2014, help reduce O&M cost and increase productivity of large solar plants in a significant way
The solar power industry, mainly firms involved in the operation & maintenance (O&M) of solar plants, have welcomed a statement by minister of state for civil aviation, Jayant Sinha, that the government will come out with regulations for operating drones within two months.
According to industry experts say drones, of which usage by civilians was restricted by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in 2014, help reduce O&M cost and increase productivity of large solar plants in a significant way.
Puneet Singh Jaggi, director of Gensol Group said, “Using drones cuts the cost of thermographic inspection by half and time by fifth. It also helps in capturing more details than is possible with a hand-held instrument. Lastly, the analysis software behind a drone is able to crunch a larger volume of data faster.”
Santosh Kamath, partner and lead for renewable energy at KPMG India, while admitting that drone usage by India’s solar power industry is at a nascent stage, says drones can reduce costs by almost a fifth.
“One example of drones’ impact is their use for site surveys to assess vegetation around panels and improve clearing cycles from site-wide monthly grass cutting to localized bi-monthly frequency, reducing clearing costs by 15-20%; another usage of drones is for soiling/hot-spot detection, these, if detected early, can improve generation by 2-5%,” Kamath told reporters.
While used extensively in the West, it is the lack of government regulations that have, until now, prevented Indian solar plants from using drones in a meaningful way.
Industry insiders claim using drones often leads to friction between them on one side and locals and the police on the other. “So far, drone applications have been operating in grey areas, as there is no specific government policy. It is a relatively new technology and considering that most solar plants have only come up in the last decade, it has limited penetration,” Jaggi added.
Source: Live Mint