Enhancing Solar Panel Efficiency: A Drone Survey Case Study at Allia Future Business Centre



In a standout application of modern drone technology, AAI Drones conducted a detailed solar panel inspection at the Allia Future Business Centre in Peterborough, England. This case study elaborates on the objectives, methodologies, results, and valuable insights from the survey carried out on April 14, 2024, highlighting the effectiveness of drones in solar panel inspections.

Project Overview

Client: Allia Future Business Centre
Objective: To assess the condition and efficiency of the rooftop solar panels.
Location: Peterborough, England
Service Provider: AAI Drones

Methods Employed


For this project, we used the DJI Matrice 350RTK drone, equipped with the H20T payload camera. This advanced setup combines high-resolution visual imaging with thermal capabilities, allowing for detailed visual inspections and thermal analysis. The precision and stability of the DJI Matrice 350RTK are crucial for capturing accurate data.


The survey was conducted under clear skies with minimal wind, ensuring optimal conditions for stable and accurate drone operation.

Survey Procedure and Highlights


  • Flight Pattern: The drone navigated in a systematic grid pattern across the rooftop solar panels, ensuring comprehensive coverage.
  • Focused Imaging: Targeted close-up shots and thermal imaging were used to assess the condition and efficiency of the panels.
  • Documentation: Each finding was meticulously documented with corresponding GPS coordinates, ensuring exact pinpointing for follow-up procedures.

Inspection Insights


Our survey revealed several key issues affecting the efficiency of the solar panels:

  • Dust Accumulation: Dust and debris were observed primarily along the sides and lower edges of the panels. This soiling pattern results from water flow over the inclined surfaces, causing dust to settle.
  • Circular Specks: Some panels displayed circular silver specks, potentially indicating damage to the polycrystalline coating.
  • Infrared Distribution: The IR analysis showed non-uniform temperature distribution across the panels. The three central rows were cooler than the outer rows, correlating with the dirt distribution on the cells.


  • Temperature Variations: Higher temperatures were noted on cleaner areas and connection points, while cooler areas corresponded with dust accumulation.
  • Connection Points: Some connection points were not visible, particularly on the left-hand side of the solar array. Additionally, the low infrared temperature on the left-hand side of the panel was also connected to the left power supplies, which had short-circuited due to water-soaked cables. These points need physical inspection due to their critical role in panel efficiency.



The client received a comprehensive report accompanied by high-definition images and videos that highlighted critical concerns.

  • Photographic Evidence: High-resolution photographs pinpointing different areas of concern across the solar panel array.
  • Thermal Analysis: Detailed thermal images showing temperature variations and potential hotspots.


Feedback from Allia Future Business Centre was highly positive. The data enabled them to target maintenance efforts effectively. The survey identified several critical maintenance needs, including dust accumulation and potential connection issues, which were promptly addressed to prevent further efficiency losses.

Additional Considerations

Safety and efficiency: Drone operations were executed with high regard for on-site safety and operational continuity. The entire survey was completed within a few hours, showcasing the efficiency and minimal disruption caused by the drone survey.

Risk mitigation: By identifying potential issues early, the survey helped in planning preventive measures, thereby reducing future repair costs and downtime.


The comprehensive solar panel survey conducted by AAI Drones using the DJI Matrice 350RTK drone offered Allia Future Business Centre invaluable insights into the condition of their solar panel installation. This case study underscores the utility of drone technology in enhancing maintenance efficiency and proactive planning in solar energy settings. The detailed, systematic approach adopted by AAI Drones sets a high standard for future inspections and is a testament to the strategic use of technology in renewable energy maintenance.

Get in Touch


We make the best photo and video collections