With increasing awareness about the benefits of renewable energy (RE) not just to the environment but also the economy, Malaysia’s solar energy industry is set to improve and grow further.

And this become the main contribution factor for emergence of UAVs as the go-to tool not only during inspection but from the very early stage of planning. It is set to accelerate, as the trend towards adopting renewable energy is expected to grow massively in the coming years.

Drones have become a vital tool for solar panel planning and inspection, collecting data more than 80% faster than manual methods and improving safety by avoiding hazardous man-hours.

Orthophoto mapping have various application in commercial and industrial property. One of its very useful function is during planning to locate the strategical position for solar panel on the rooftop.

Solar panels, also known as photovoltaic (PV) panels, will be installed as a component of a system for capturing and storing energy from light utilizing solar cells. Solar panels may be configured as free standing installations or may be installed onto sundry types of structures. Solar panel installations may include multiple different components, such as, for example, frames, inverters, batteries, and the solar panels themselves.

Prior to the installation of solar panel, it is vital to plan and analyse the area to best optimize the solar panels output. For today’s short topic, we will discuss on 2D Orthomosaic Imagery features, how it can help to locate the best position for solar panel installation during planning phase.


Recording Drone Image

This project is categorized as a minor task, therefore DJI Phantom 4 Pro drone were selected. For its best resolution, more facile to handle and during the process of image recording. As a customary, we followed the standard requisite for overlap and lateral overlap of 80% and 75% respectively.

After the flight planning conducted, we deployed the drone to record the images of selected building for solar panel installation. We have to make sure the rooftop is visible from branches or relief displacement.

Relief displacement is the shift in an object’s image position caused by its elevation above a particular datum. For vertical or near vertical photography the shift occurs radially from the nadir point.

Identification of Obstacle Area

We studied the rooftop equipment to identify the obstacle. In the solar industry, equipment or other objects that impact the ability to site solar modules are referred to as “obstructions” on the building’s roof. These rooftop obstructions are anything that takes up space on the rood – skylights, heating and cooling equipment, billboards, vent stacks, elevator penthouses, and the like. For initial assessment it is sufficient to note the level of obstructions very generally, such as minimal, moderate, or extensive. Roofs that gave minimal equipment tend to be better candidates. Moderate rooftops may be fine, while extensively cluttered rooftops can present challenges when it comes to finding enough space for modules, as well as for installing them in an expedient manner. This can drive up costs and make maintenance of the solar array and the roof itself more difficult. If we do not know how to classify the roof, a quick review of the building on an aerial satellite image application like Google Earth will give a good idea of how much rooftop equipment exists on the building.

These are the information about general of the part of a roof.


Usually made from 1⁄2-inch plywood, the decking closes and reinforces the roof structure and provides a nailbed for the shingles.


All the boards running along the edge of the roof or eaves. Also known as a fascia.


All the boards running along the edge of the roof or eaves. Also known as a fascia.


A structure located behind the higher side of a chimney (similar projections from the roof) to divert rainwater around it.


Horizontal line at the top of the roof.


The “V-cut” angle along the junction of two slopes of a roof.


Flashing can be flexible or rigid and is made of galvanized steel, aluminum or plastic. It is a type of resistant moulding that prevents water flowing near roof openings from infiltrating the roof. Flashing is found in valleys and at the bases of chimneys, walls, roof vents and plumbing vents.


These enclosed structures made of metal or plastic feature openings and fins, ensuring that the attic space is properly ventilated. The most effective vents have four open sides and rise above the roof, which allows them to capture the wind from all directions to produce a suction effect. To achieve full ventilation of the attic, there must be an air inlet at the base of the roof, through perforations in the eaves soffit. Most often made of perforated aluminium, this piece closes off the underside of the eaves.


Moulding that covers the edge of the roof and reduces the risk of water infiltration.


This is a piece of polystyrene or cardboard inserted between two rafters to ensure the free flow of air over the insulation near the soffits. There should be at least 2 inches of space under the decking.


A pipe that emerges from the roof and admits air into the plumbing system to allow wastewater to flow properly to the sewer or septic-system leaching field.


Made of fibreglass and asphalt, shingles protect the roof from rain and lend a house character.


Potential Area of Solar Panel Installation

Analysis for the designated area of solar panel installation as below:

Figure 1: Mapping of Potential Area for Solar Panel Installation on Commercial Rooftop Building

Based on Figure 1, we identified that the rooftop of the commercial building, obstructions level is moderate. This is a simple method to check and evaluate the position of solar panel based on drone images.

Figure 2: Bird view of commercial rooftop building that has moderate rooftop level

Figure 2, the unsuitable areas is highlighted in red as obstructions. The areas should be steer clear from installing solar panel. They consist of difference height, saddle, eaves edge and air conditional store

Advantages UAV Data Services

Advantages between planning using traditional method and UAVs data service:

  • Increase efficiency: Drones collect data faster than traditional methods. Solar farms are typically have very large installations, therefore by using drone to collect the data will reduce time of surveying the area during planning to optimize the usage of land/area hence secure optimum solar panel output.
  • Obtain quantity & quality information: Efficiently identify issue that traditional method might overlooked.
  • Avoid hazardous man-hours: Conduct surveys and inspections without being exposed to potential danger.
  • Reduce costs: Not only in planning, but post installation- during inspection for maintenance and avoid potential shut downs.
  • Increase efficiency: Drones collect data faster than traditional methods. Solar farms are typically have very large installations, therefore by using drone to collect the data will reduce time of surveying the area during planning to optimize the usage of land/area hence secure optimum solar panel output.


Versatility, multi-diverse and delivering limitless solutions. That is how we describe OFO Tech. We explore new things on daily basis, and we develop innovative solutions for our customers using the latest and greatest in technology.  2D Orthomosaic imagery has been utilized in various sectors, with a little imagination and technical knowledge, we can deliver such added value such to identify problem ahead of time for better planning and optimizing the land/area.

Solar panel installations are expected to rise throughout the Asia and surrounding regions in coming years. A jump in installations means an increase in pre-installation planning and inspections. This bodes well for the drone data service industry. Ultimately, our solutions are far more great; effective than traditional method– helping client to increase efficiency, capture incredibly accurate data and enhance safety.

We are excited to announce our next entry, “IoT –Smart Farming.”

We will be discussing about Internet of Things (IoT) and how it will be a key to an extraordinary evolution for our Agro Plantation.

Stay tuned!

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