Utilizing drone aerial photography and AI to digitize maintenance and inspection work, ORIX Renewable Energy Management Co., Ltd. in partnership with SITEMARK, a leading company in drone aerial photography and analysis services, will provide diagnostic services for solar power plants in Japan.
ORIX Renewable Energy Management (Headquarters: Koto-ku, Tokyo, President: Atsunori Sato) currently operates, manages and maintains 86 large power plants (450MW), of which 111 are large-scale solar power plants with a total installed capacity of 826MW.
Since mid-2018, ORIX has worked with SITEMARK (Headquarters: Belgium, CEO: Michiko Lloyd), using the Fuse platform for aerial drone data capture and analysis of the solar power stations ORIX manages. Through digitalization and visualization of the operating status, early detection of anomalies has given the ability to not only to improve operational efficiency, but also increase power generation profits. As a result of the initial success, ORIX will now start providing solar power station diagnostic services using Sitemark to power generation companies and power station maintenance and management companies nationwide. ORIX not only provides drone aerial photography and delivery of inspection results, but also proposals for improvement of power plant operations.
With this service, a drone equipped with infrared thermography takes an aerial image of a solar panel and software equipped with artificial intelligence (AI) can automatically classify solar panel anomalies by type. By digitizing the maintenance/inspection work of a solar power plant, which was historically time consuming due to human visual inspection, ORIX is now able to realize labor-saving and accurate maintenance and inspection at the same time.
An initial test project was conducted at the power plant in Omuta City, Fukuoka Prefecture where more than 1,000 anomalies were detected. As a result of implementing the identified repairs, the power generation increased revenue to more than the repair cost. And after adjusting the amount of solar radiation to the same amount as the previous year, the annual power generation revenue increased by over 7 million Yen (over 55,000 Euros). In addition, the number of anomaly detections during drone aerial photography and analysis work in 2019 was significantly reduced to 219 (see graph below).