Uncrewed Systems Technology 049 - April/May 2023

108 A small VTOL UAV fitted with a thermographic camera is a powerful tool for inspecting the integrity and energy efficiency of many kinds of installations that are difficult, time-consuming or dangerous to reach by methods that involve people working at height – and rooftop solar panels fit snugly into this category. Turning this core capability into a professional business hinges on choosing the right equipment, developing safe operating procedures, reassuring the public and delivering the right information to customers, explains DroneWorks’ founder and director Jason Hinsley. Thermography uses thermal imaging cameras to provide highly accurate temperature measurements throughout the image, which is enhanced with computer-generated false colour to provide an intuitive visualisation of temperature distribution within it to support the data. This is particularly valuable for quickly determining the condition of rooftop solar panels, the efficiency of which is critical to businesses and homes trying to reduce their carbon footprint, save money on electricity and benefit from selling energy back to the grid. Follow themoney It was a sudden fall in income from the grid that first alerted the owners of Bleasdale Parish Hall, in Preston, northern England, that there might be something wrong with the building’s rooftop PV array, which was installed while the UK government was subsidising the technology. The hall is run as a charity and provides a venue for social, educational and business functions and events. Besides its PV array, the hall has a wind turbine and a biomass boiler. In the summer of last year, its income from the grid fell by almost 50% over the previous Peter Donaldson reports on how this company is using UAVs to carry out essential inspections of solar arrays safely and quickly Sunlight April/May 2023 | Uncrewed Systems Technology duties