Percepto has completed a proof-of-concept with the Electric Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) for the monitoring of a 250-acre floating solar farm, one of the largest of its kind in the world.
The size of 70 soccer fields and located 350 meters from the nearest shoreline, the solar farm is on the Sirindhorn dam basin in southeastern Thailand, consisting of seven sections floating on buoys. Partnering with Top Engineering Corp., a Thai drone consultancy and equipment provider, Percepto AIM software and Percepto Air drone-in-a-box will enable autonomous routine inspections of panels and other equipment to ensure proper operation and detect anomalies before they turn into bigger issues.
Joining Thailand’s electrical grid last October, the project comprises 145,000 solar panels. Given the solar farm’s size and distance from land, equipment inspection and maintenance are cumbersome. Without drones, inspection staff would need to access the panel by boat to manually review the panels or go offshore to simply launch a drone that could provide visual inspection. Inspectors also face obstacles due to weather conditions such as extreme heat, rain and fog. Percepto drone-in-box is a robust system that was the first to pass Level 5 hurricane testing at wind speeds of up to 155 mph, and sturdy enough to handle the heat and humidity of Thailand’s tropical climate.
Percepto’s automated drones will provide regular operations and maintenance reports; map the location of the panel; and perform inspections of substations, transformers, floating fences and solar floaters which hold the panel above water. When an anomaly is detected, workers can know the exact problem, and where it is located. While one person must be in the vicinity of the panel for regulatory reasons, the inspection can be conducted remotely from Bangkok, more than 600 km away from the dam.
“We are very excited to partner with EGAT and Top Engineering Corporation on this unique and environmentally sustainable electricity project,” says Dor Abuhasira, Percepto’s co-founder and CEO. “Autonomous drones are strengthening the sustainable positioning of renewable energy facilities to achieve global climate targets. With Percepto drones, solar farms such as EGAT can be consistently monitored and inspected regardless of their size or location to further unleash the potential of renewable energy sources.”
“This project illustrates the breadth of our unique capabilities as countries explore innovative solutions in their push to reduce their reliance on traditional energy sources,” adds Ehud Ollech, head of business development and partnerships. “We’re looking forward to full drone deployment and working with EGAT and Top Engineering to leverage the many benefits of our platform.”
“Percepto drones will dramatically improve the consistency at which the panel provides customers with electricity, how quickly repairs are made, and the safety level of our employees,” states EGAT’s chief of Fuel Business Development Department at Chanapan Kongnam. “Rather than sending out staff to inspect the panel, we will deploy inspections much more frequently than could be achieved manually. Staff are only sent out when repairs are necessary, and they will know the nature of the problem and where it will be located to spend as little time on the water as possible.”
“We applaud Thailand for its innovation and commitment to developing sustainable energy sources,” comments Kornnarong Tungfung, the top engineering managing director. “By deploying autonomous drones powered by AI technology, Thai solar farms will be continuously observed for a variety of factors to ensure they consistently generate electricity for the people of Thailand.”