What is the use of the drone in the energy sector
When it comes to the energy sector, the stakes are often incredibly high. Not only are the individual avenues of providing energy and usable electricity to people at almost constant risk, but the equipment necessary to provide this needed element is always in need of inspection or repair. Regardless of the source of the energy, fossil fuels, solar, wind and others, drones have been playing an intricate role in helping things to run a little more smoothly. While you might not have been aware of the multiple applications for UAVs in the energy sector, after reading through these ten uses for the drones, we can all be a little better informed about how drones are going to make things better in this field and help to lower your out-of-pocket expenses for paying for the energy you need to live.
To Help Ensure Entire Solar Panels Are Functional
According to an article that was released from Green Tech Media, there are plenty of applications for UAVs in the solar energy field. Since much of this work requires hands-on installation and maintenance, having tools like drones at the disposal of some of these companies can help lower overall costs and make production better than it ever has been. One of the applications for drones, according to the article, will be to assess the function of individual solar panels to ensure that they are working. Sometimes these panels are improperly installed, or set up in the wrong positions, and they are not producing the energy that they should. Imagery from drones should offer real-time analysis about productivity and help to determine if modifications need to be made.
Carrying Tools and Equipment to Unsafe Areas
When it comes to energy production, there are a lot of areas and operations that are just generally unsafe for humans to be around or have to troubleshoot. While drones might not be advanced enough yet to get into these areas and repair damages to certain machines or get large portions of a power plant back online when it is in a critical status. While a small team of individuals might be required to get these facilities back up and running in the event of a main malfunction of some sort, the less people involved in the process, the less potential you have for someone getting hurt or worse. Drones, while not currently capable of intricate and advanced repair techniques yet can be instrumental in flying in necessary tools and equipment instead of sending in more bodies that could overcomplicate things.
Oil and Gas Drone Inspection
The oil and gas industry has been on the forefront of using drone technology to make their processes easier and safer. According to an article in the NY Times, UAV use is getting more prominent on off shore oil rigs especially. Since there is always the possibility of catastrophe with highly pressurized rigs like these, visual inspections of the entire station need to happen on a fairly regular basis. In the past this had been done by teams of people who were working from suspended ropes or had to build scaffolding to assess damages or problem areas. Now, with the use of drones, the inspection process is more thorough than ever, and requires to no one to be at risk to complete it. On paper, according to the NY Times article, drone inspection flights for rigs save an average of 80% in cost versus manual inspection by humans.
Solar Panel Inspection with Drones
This is a process that some of the top solar companies in the world are still working the kinks out of. When this is ready for global use, the cost of installing solar panels should decrease dramatically. This is what is spurning these solar energy outfits on to find the solution, they are on the cusp of having more and more people utilizing this renewable energy source than ever before. What is holding a lot of people back from solar energy solutions is the upfront cost and installation of the equipment. Once drones are able to set up the equipment and get the entire set up operational, the time ]and effort saved will translate into steep installation price cuts allowing more homes and businesses to be up and running faster than ever before.
Inspections of Power Plants
There are power plants of all kinds and types. With each of these, whether they convert coal into energy or nuclear power, there are many areas that are critical to production but generally unsafe to enter and inspect. Fortunately, an expendable drone that is not susceptible to harsh environments or emissions that would injure a human are now available to be used. Based on an article published on Shell Global’s website, the company is finding all kinds of uses for drones in this kind of inspection role, allowing the company to see into areas that might need service or attention, but that had been unsafe to send a team to inspect while the plant was operational. Now they can better understand how to boost production and maintain equipment far better than they could in the past.
Assessment Of Outages
Power outages, especially with the fossil fuel based electric companies are a common occurrence throughout the country. While usually this coincides with severe weather events that have somehow compromised equipment within a region, it can sometimes be difficult for a company to assess just how widespread the damage and reach of the outage is. While before, utilities relied on dated computer software and people calling in about a loss of power in their homes, this waiting around to figure out the problem hasn’t sat well with a lot of top companies. Instead, drones can now be deployed as part of response fleets to assess the full reach of power outages, and help crews who are inbound to fix the problem get the materials and tools they need wherever they are located.
Time Saving Analysis Tools
Based on a report from Power Magazine, the analytical tools that can be uploaded to the brain of a UAV can save energy corporations thousands or even millions of dollars. You have assuredly heard the adage “time is money” and that is most certainly the case between the time that a company determines that they need to build a new facility or install more panels to a specific area, and how long it actually takes to find the ideal location. While this process could take days or weeks using manpower sweeping over a region looking for the best location in proximity to certain elements, drones are able to aerially assess wide areas and send back data analysis in real-time to production engineers.
Wind Turbine Inspection Drone
Wind energy is something that you might not hear about quite as much as normal electricity companies or solar energy, but it is a fast-growing avenue of renewable power. The trouble is, every factor of installation and maintenance of the equipment necessary to run these turbines has been costly up until the applications of UAVs. Now, operators can fly these drones to any place on a turbine and assess functionality, damages, or ways to improve their productivity. The process now can give accurate and to-the-minute results about changes or repairs that need to be made, when the inspection process before would have taken days with costly equipment and manpower. In an overall sense, the application of drones in this field could dramatically reduce its upfront and ongoing costs, making it an affordable power solution for the future.
Using Software and Algorithms to Find Ideal Locations for Solar Panels
Similar to their data analysis functions for new stations mentioned earlier, sophisticated software is being introduced to drones to allow them to find the best spots for solar panel placement, according to an article from The Guardian. This algorithm not only instills the basic needs for solar panel placement, but also will factor in dozens of considerations that engineers could not assess on their own from the ground, or that they simply would not actively consider when choosing a site. This process will ensure that new panels getting installed are in ideal locations and positioned correctly to produce optimal power.
Thermal Imagery To Determine Productivity of Individual Solar Panels
By utilizing thermal imagery cameras and infrared, drones are able now to assess the productivity of solar panels better than humans could do it manually. The aerial views available with UAV technology offer a broader scope for analysis, aiding technicians in locating both defective panels and groupings that need to be turned to be more productive. As was earlier stated, the technology behind repairing or modifying these panels might still be a way off, but the time cut from the initial inspection could make a significant impact on maintenance costs and offer more sustainable power for companies and homes than human inspection and analysis could have provided on its own. Now, several inspections can be done in a short frame of time, offering faster results and more credible information about modifications then what was possible even a year ago. To see a little about what this technology looks like, check out this video.
Drones are vastly changing the energy world. They are fast machines that can send data in real time back to technicians which improve the way that each of these companies operates. While this might not translate into a lower energy bill for you just yet, it can ensure that you experience fewer outages and better service in the coming years.