UK solar firm Push Energy has launched a joint venture with a drone retailer to offer aerial monitoring services to the domestic solar market.

Above Surveying has combined a self-developed geo-referencing aerial pyranometer technology with a fleet of drones which it said goes “beyond the limits” of traditional thermography.

The patent pending technology compares captured irradiance data with thermographic imagery and temperature gradient information. These data sets are then used to categorise any changes or defects across a solar installation all the way down to cell level.

Clients of the company will gain access to geo-referenced high resolution imagery and reports from site visit through a bespoke online portal.

Will Hitchcock, managing director at Above Surveying, said that the combining Push Energy’s understanding of the solar market with Buzzflyer’s drone expertise had created a “strong partnership in this dynamic sector”.

“Our experience shows that even a solar plant with zero string errors and a healthy performance ratio will almost certainly have a surprising number of defective modules.

“Our unique technology allows us to identify and categorise these defects with speed and efficiency so they can be addressed and optimum performance restored,” Hitchcock added.

The O&M sector is strongly expected to see a surge in the coming months as the number of operational assets in the UK continues to soar and the secondary market ratchets up, creating a thirst for dedicated O&M providers. The topic will also be widely discussed at next month’s Solar Summit at Twickenham Stadium.

At last month’s Solar Finance and Investment conference in London, Magnetar Capital head of structured products James Prusko claimed that the O&M market would consolidate in the UK as the demands of asset managers increased.