AUTOMATIC FAULT RECOGNITION OF PHOTOVOLTAIC MODULES BASED ON STATISTICAL ANALYSIS OF UAV THERMOGRAPHY
As a malfunctioning PV (Photovoltaic) cell has a higher temperature than adjacent normal cells, we can detect it easily with a thermal infrared sensor. However, it will be a time-consuming way to inspect large-scale PV power plants by a hand-held thermal infrared sensor. This paper presents an algorithm for automatically detecting defective PV panels using images captured with a thermal imaging camera from an UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle). The proposed algorithm uses statistical analysis of thermal intensity (surface temperature) characteristics of each PV module to verify the mean intensity and standard deviation of each panel as parameters for fault diagnosis. One of the characteristics of thermal infrared imaging is that the larger the distance between sensor and target, the lower the measured temperature of the object. Consequently, a global detection rule using the mean intensity of all panels in the fault detection algorithm is not applicable. Therefore, a local detection rule based on the mean intensity and standard deviation range was developed to detect defective PV modules from individual array automatically. The performance of the proposed algorithm was tested on three sample images; this verified a detection accuracy of defective panels of 97 % or higher. In addition, as the proposed algorithm can adjust the range of threshold values for judging malfunction at the array level, the local detection rule is considered better suited for highly sensitive fault detection compared to a global detection rule.