The International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences
Publications Copernicus
Articles | Volume XLVI-5/W1-2022
03 Feb 2022
 | 03 Feb 2022


J. Starkey, C. Hancock, L. Chen, and Q. Meng

Keywords: Digital Twin, Digital Modelling, Utility-Scale Solar, 3D Reconstruction, Fault Detection, Asset Management

Abstract. A Digital Twin is a virtual representation of a physical asset or system with the purpose of optimizing intelligent behaviour of said physical entity. Digital Twin is a promising tool for asset management as the virtual entity can exist and aid at every stage of a systems life. However, the infancy of the concept means implementation remains at an early stage and particularly poorly defined within an asset management context. Practical case studies of digital twinning (the modelling process of generating and updating Digital Twins) are an important tool to ensure definitions from research are applied rigorously and to aid in their deployment with practitioners in real industrial applications. This-being-said, there are insufficient case studies for asset management digital twinning. In particular, the Digital Twinning process for utility-scale solar has not been considered. Utility-scale solar asset management often suffers challenges due to remoteness and scale of assets, contributing to high labour costs and thus could benefit enormously from an effective Digital Twin to increase precision and accuracy of fault detection and efficiency of labour for O&M tasks. In addition, the data sharing and analysis Digital Twins provide is vital for the immature solar sector. However, Digital Twinning of utility-scale solar has not been well considered and presents issues around cost-effective data collection and modelling. Therefore, this paper details the current state-of-the-art and challenges surveying utility-scale solar and the progress and application of Digital Twin to utility-scale solar. Then a novel proof of concept process for digital twinning of utility-scale solar is presented with a focus on geometric data capture for updating as-is models. Furthermore, the paper will consider Digital Twin requirements and their prescription to current O&M methods in utility-scale solar. Finally, the paper highlights currently available required technology as well as highlighting future technological improvements that would benefit the proposed proof of concept.