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Solar Research at DLR


It is stormy. Stone particles and rough sand fly through the air randomly hitting highly sensitive measuring equipment and the mirror faces of a solar thermal power station. Over 7,000 solar field collectors stand in rows, side by side. Which have been damaged? How do we localise the potential sources of problems? A new project at the Institute for Solar Research of the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) provides the answer: from the air, of course, using high-tech quadrocopters from Microdrones. These are deployed everywhere where the human eye needs special assistance, such as in the area of Aerial Inspection.

With the md4-1000, Microdrones created the basis for the latest measurement procedures of the DLR Institute for Solar Research for certifying parabolic trough power stations. The institute is one of the leading research facilities worldwide in the area of concentrating solar technology (CSP). Under project name "QFly" (synonym for Flying qualification) the DLR inspects future fields of solar thermal power stations using Microdrones. With its robust, weather-resistant carbon fibre body, fitted with a high-resolution camera, the ultra-lightweight microdrone achieves a flight duration of over 30 minutes, and is thus tailor-made for just about any application in this industry.

Microdrones recently survived DLR’s baptism of fire in southern Spain with an application at the Plataforma Solar de Almería. At this year’s SolarPACES conference in Granada the DLR presented the latest technology to the industry. The measuring system is suitable for testing the construction, removal, optimization or monitoring of solar fields. According to the DLR, solar thermal power stations have the potential to provide a high percentage of our primary energy needs in the future. Keeping the vision of sustainable electric power in sight, specialists are constantly developing new technologies and methods to make electricity from the desert even more efficient and cost-effective. Microdrones is very happy to be partaking in that vision.