PVEL teams up with drone inspection specialist to provide aerial inspection as a service


PV Evolution Labs (PVEL) and QE-Labs are teaming up to provide drone inspection services in the US solar market.

PVEL, known for its annual PV Reliability Scorecard, is an independent lab for the downstream solar and energy storage market. It has accumulated more than a decade of measured reliability and performance data for PV and storage equipment. QE Labs develops and commercializes aerial solar solutions for the PV industry to support its clients.

Together they will provide a drone inspection service that can scan solar installations using drone-based imaging in a fraction of the time required for ground-based imaging.  Using electroluminescent (EL) imaging, PVEL reports that this method can image up to 10,000 modules in a single night (in ideal conditions). This volume of imaging can create a comprehensive visual representation of the health of an entire array in days instead of weeks

EL imaging is an inspection method that can reveal defects and microcracks of solar cells inside a PV module. It is widely used as a tool for quality control in PV manufacturing. For years, PVEL has used a manual daytime EL tester to inspect more than 2GW of underperforming or damaged PV systems. Currently EL imaging is only conducted on a sampling basis due to the speed and cost limitations of manual inspection technologies. With the agreement with QE-Labs, PVEL will expand its field testing services to perform faster inspection of large-scale solar assets.

“We are impressed with QE-Labs’ technology, which completed the world’s largest EL inspection in Singapore with a much faster and more cost-effective solution than what is available in the market today.” said Jenya Meydbray, CEO of PVEL.

The new partnership will provide US project developers, asset owners and investors with a comprehensive testing service that will help ensure quality assurance and quality control of solar PV power plants across their 25-year lifecycle. Using EL imaging, drone inspections can identify damaged or underperforming modules for insurance or warranty claims, perform technical due diligence prior to business transactions, complete site-acceptance testing, and detect early failures before the defect liability period (DLP) ends, including excessive light induced degraded (LID) PV modules. The service can also be used for basic annual inspections of solar assets.

“With established success in our home market, we are ready to deploy our autonomous drone solution in more regional markets to support the growth of the global PV industry. This collaboration with PVEL is QE-Labs’ first step towards global expansion based on our drone-enabled Data-as-a-Service business model,” said Dr. WANG Yan, CEO of QE-Labs.

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