Light Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) for cooperative inspection of PV plants

Paolo Bellezza Quater, Francesco Grimaccia, Sonia Leva, Marco Mussetta, Mohammadreza Aghaei

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

181 Citations (SciVal)


After a fast photovoltaic (PV) expansion in the past decade supported by many governments in Europe, in this postincentive era, one of the most significant open issues in the PV sector is to find appropriate inspection methods to evaluate real PV plant performance and failures. In this context, PV modules are surely the key components affecting the overall system performance; therefore, there is a main concern about the occurrence of any kind of failure in PV modules. This paper aims to propose a novel concept for monitoring PV plants by using light unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or systems (UASs) during their operation and maintenance. The main objectives of this study are to explore and evaluate the use of different UAV technologies and to propose a reliable, cost-effective, and time-saving method for the inspection of PV plants. In this research, different UAVs were employed to inspect a PV array field. For this purpose, some thermal imaging cameras and a visual camera were chosen as monitoring tools to suitably scan PV modules. The first results show that the procedure of utilizing UAV was effective in the detection of different failures of PV modules. Moreover, such a process was much faster and cost effective than traditional methods.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6828739
Pages (from-to)1107-1113
Number of pages7
JournalIEEE Journal of Photovoltaics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Photovoltaic (PV) module
  • PV system control and monitoring
  • thermal imaging camera
  • unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)


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