Percepto Autonomous Drones Monitor 250-Acre Floating Solar Farm

Percepto is an autonomous inspection company using industrial robotics. They have completed a proof of concepts (POC), with the Electric Generating Authority of Thailand, (EGAT), for the monitoring of a 250-acre floating sun farm, one of largest of its kind worldwide.

The solar farm, which is approximately the size of 70 soccer pitches and is located 350m from the nearest shoreline in Southeastern Thailand, is made up seven sections that are floating on buoys. It is situated in the Sirindhorn dam basin. Top Engineering Corp. is a Thai drone consultancy and equipment supplier. Percepto AIM software will be used to inspect panels and other equipment autonomously.

Joining Thailand’s electrical grid last October, the $34 million project reflects the country’s push to achieve carbon neutral status by 2050 with 145,000 solar panels harnessing power from the sun during the day and converting energy from flowing water at night. The country seeks to use more renewable energy sources, and decrease its dependence on natural gas, which is the largest source of electricity generation.

Given the solar farm’s size and distance from land, equipment inspection and maintenance are cumbersome. Without drones, inspectors would have to go by boat to inspect the panels manually or to launch a drone that could provide visual inspection. Weather conditions, such as extreme heat or rain, can also present obstacles to inspectors. 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. Workers can pinpoint the exact problem and identify where it is located when an anomaly has been detected. One person must be present at the panel to inspect it for regulatory reasons. However, inspections can be done remotely from Bangkok, which is more than 600km 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.”