July 2023

In order to mitigate the impacts of climate change and reduce the use of fossil fuels, the implementation and use of renewable energy sources is key. Remote sensing provides valuable monitoring of solar farms that enables their efficiency, and hence output, to be tracked over time at scale, efficiently from a distance. In this case study we demonstrate the automatic detection of some solar farms in the south of England and how regular monitoring using satellite thermal imaging reports on their efficiency.

In the search of decoupling the economy and society from fossil fuels, governments and companies are heavily investing in renewable energy. Among the different options available, solar farms offer good energy outputs at a wide range of latitudes. In addition, solar farming can be integrated with sheep grazing and vegetable growing, which increases the value extracted from the same area and also improves sustainability.

Solar panels are sensitive to temperature, losing voltage and hence efficiency when temperatures rise. For example, each degree Celsius above 25oC that a panel experiences can cause a drop in efficiency of between 0.3% and 0.5%. 

Responding to the needs of this industry, D-CAT offers services that can detect and monitor solar farms anywhere on the planet and track their efficiency over time as temperatures vary. The following image illustrates an example of the automatic detection of solar farms in an area of the UK. The left image shows the source data, and the right shows the detected solar farms, highlighted in red.

Below are some results from tracking over time the temperature of one solar farm in the imagery above. On the left is the selected solar farm, then with images from left to right showing the temperature (in degrees Kelvin) on successive dates (08/07/2023, 16/07/2023, 01/08/2023 and 09/08/2023). All of the panels register as being 27oC or above during this period, with red showing when the panels reached 35oC, and hence at this time, the panel efficiency could have dropped by up to 5%.

These results can be produced on-demand for any area globally, based upon up-to-date satellite data and through our Fusion Platform®, the data can be delivered as a regular service.

Estimation of solar output from rooftop solar panels is also available from D-CATFor more details about our products and services, please get in touch.



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