Drones can provide a quicker and cheap inspection alternative. Image: Above.

UK aerial solar inspection company Above Surveying has acquired German drone start-up ucair, continuing to expand its international reach.

Both companies use drones to carry out thermographic inspections of the health of solar assets, with Above focused on large-scale operations. Additionally, both have invested heavily into the automation of their analysis processes, according to Above, and importantly into digitalisation and data mining.

The two companies have worked together over the last couple of years, including working with Solar Power Europe on the Solar Aerial Thermography Best Practices Mark.

Digitalisation and automation of inspection at sites will “play a fundamental role” in the growing deployment of utility scale solar, according to said Will Hitchcock, CEO and founder of Above.

“Above is strongly positioned to scale its reach across the globe and accelerate its ambition to be the leading aerial inspection and data analytics company thanks to its advances in the automation of aerial inspections. Together we will draw on our market knowledge to strengthen our service offering and software capabilities.”

Ucair was founded in 2017 as a spin-off from innogy’s Innovation Hub, building a Germany – wide drone pilot network for inspection of small rooftop systems initially, and then moving into utility-scale site inspection.

“We have shared an understanding of superior quality and service from the very beginning of our friendly relationship,” ucair CEO Viola Hoffmann added.

The acquisition follows Above securing expansion capital from multiple family offices, with the view of expanding internationally. The company says that the move increases its access to the German market and strengthens its European presence.