When solar energy panels threaten to fail, defects will usually generate heat. Luckily for Carlill Energy, because the company has successfully adopted the use of thermal imaging cameras to detect and identify problems with photovoltaic (PV) cells, junction boxes and grid network connections in a very early stage.
Punjab, India, is endowed with a vast potential for solar energy with over 300 days of sunshine in a year. Carlill Energy is a frontrunner in the development of solar power plants in the state of Punjab, India. Across the state, the company has already installed a solar plant capacity of 1.5 MW. The latest plant has been commissioned in February 2012 in Muktsar (eastern Punjab), in association with the Punjab Energy Development Agency (PEDA). The plant has a higher PR value among the many different solar power plants in the state of Punjab.
After having an issue with a failed diode box in the recent past, Carlill Energy started to look out for a solution that was able to provide an advance warning. Based on such a warning, the company was hoping to be able to take precautionary measures and prevent incidents with failed diode boxes from happening again. After thorough research of the market place and based on the feedback from the industry professionals, it was decided to go for a FLIR thermal imaging camera. FLIR's distributor Industrial Agencies, based in Chandigarh, India, provided Carlill Energy with a FLIR i7 thermal camera.
Industrial agencies also took care of the training of the Carlill Energy maintenance staff. During the training, three major hotspots in junction boxes were observed. According to the maintenance staff, the failure of these connections could have hampered the plant's power generation as well as the company's PR.
With strong performance and a wide range of applications, the management team of Carlill Energy was enthusiastic about the performance of the FLIR i7 camera. Next to the identification of the issues with diode boxes, Carlill Energy is also using the FLIR i7 thermal imaging camera for the identification of issues with PV cells and the grid network connections or terminations.
According to Satnam Singh, Maintenance Manager, Carlill Energy, the FLIR i7 thermal imager will help him identify problematic areas and as a result, ensure flawless supply of electricity to the grid. 'The company has been able to recover the cost of the camera completely. By locating problems in critical equipment, the thermal imager has enabled them to prevent costly breakdowns,' he added. In addition, this will increase the overall return on the investment of the company for this plant.
FLIR i7 thermal imaging camera
The FLIR i7 is the smallest, lightest and most affordable thermal imaging camera on the market. It is incredibly easy to use and requires no former experience. It really is a matter of point-shoot-detect to obtain high-quality thermal images that will immediately give the user the thermal information he needs. The camera is extremely easy to understand and operate and has been designed for entry-level users.
The FLIR i7 produces instant, point and shoot JPEG thermal imagery that carries all required temperature data and can be stored internally or externally, sent and analysed. The unit only weighs 365 g and is easy to store in a belt pouch. FLIR i-Series thermal imaging cameras withstand a 2 meter drop. They are water splash proof and IP43 rated.
Reporting and analysis
Carlill Energy also opted for the FLIR Tools software, which has been designed to quickly import, edit and analyse images and turn them into convincing, professional PDF inspection reports, ready to print or email, so users can get a 'yes for repairs' fast.
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