Finding one faulty solar panel in a sea of millions

Monday, 26 February, 2024

Finding one faulty solar panel in a sea of millions

Up until now, finding faults in individual panels on a solar farm has been a time-consuming and expensive business. A tech startup from The University of Queensland has developed an AI-based system designed to address this problem.

“The challenge with large solar farms is detecting any faulty or underperforming solar panels hidden in a sea of millions,” explained Associate Professor Rahul Sharma from UQ’s School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

“It’s impractical to install monitoring hardware on each panel, inspect every panel for damage or clean every panel to remove dirt. We needed to find a way to automate that process.”

Sharma and his team developed SolarisAI in order to detect faults in solar farms without the need to install additional hardware, making the process fast and cost-effective. The technology works at the array and string panel level and sequentially extracts vital information, monitoring for degradation, soiling, wiring faults and tracker problems, as well as pinpointing any maintenance needed.

“Underperformance in Australian solar farms costs the industry around $400 million a year,” Sharma said. “We’re aiming for SolarisAI to reduce those losses by half, and potentially deliver an uplift in revenue of up to 8%.”

There are plans for the technology to be deployed at Edify Energy’s Hamilton solar farms at Collinsville in North Queensland and Genex Power’s Kidston solar farm in North-West Queensland.

Edify Energy CEO and founder John Cole said it was an exciting project.

“The key to maintaining grid reliability and achieving success as a network operator is effective and efficient asset management,” he said.

“This technology has the potential to drive solutions to the world’s energy crisis.”

The UQ team partnered with German-based electronics and connection technology company Weidmüller to develop early prototypes. SolarisAI was founded by UQ’s commercialisation company UniQuest, spearheaded by investment from Uniseed as well as the UniQuest Investment Fund.

“UQ is committed to sustainable energy and renewable energy generation,” said UniQuest CEO Dr Dean Moss.

“This is a fantastic commercial opportunity backed by top-notch research with the potential to generate huge economic and environmental benefits.”

Image caption: Associate Professor Rahul Sharma.

Related Articles

What Australia thinks about the energy transition

A CSIRO survey has canvassed more than 6700 people in all states and territories, across capital...

NZ has reached the 'electrification tipping point' — where to now?

New Zealand is one the of the first countries in the world where electric appliances and vehicles...

Exploring the impact of bright lighting on wildlife

Aotearoa New Zealand scientists have looked into the effects on flora and fauna of an...

  • All content Copyright © 2024 Westwick-Farrow Pty Ltd