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How Drones Streamline Inspection in the Energy Sector

By Enterprise Technology Review | Tuesday, March 10, 2020

How Drones Streamline Inspection in the Energy Sector

The capability of drones to cover difficult terrains and capture high-quality data and imageries streamlines inspection in the energy sector.

FREMONT, CA: Drones are constantly contributing to industries across verticals. Energy sectors, such as solar and wind, are also using drones for operational efficiency. Although drones can have various applications in the energy sector, they can be especially be used as inspection devices in the energy industry. The traditional inspections methods were not only manual but also required significant amounts of money and time. However, drones can go over the utility sites and report everything ranging from damage in solar panels to wind turbines. Such image-based data allows the identification of the challenges and determine resolutions methods accordingly.

When it comes to safety-critical functionalities such as inspection of gas facilities, solar farms, and remote oil fields, the process needed professionals and helicopters in the past. There were various safety measures, such as the creation of safety documents, which were needed before the monitoring of such facilities. However, drones have virtually removed the safety risks. Moreover, drones can even monitor areas that are difficult to traverse by humans.

With reduced inspection overheads, operators can focus more on the data at hand and have a better understanding of the situation. For instance, a drone flying over wind turbines can gather images and data can be utilized for mapping, monitoring, and planning as well as structural analysis. Moreover, a thermal camera equipped with a drone device can detect damaged insulators or conductor hot spots. A drone can also be leveraged to create 3D images of the surfaces so that operators can get a clear understanding of damage such as cracks or erosion, even without stopping the turbines from operating. Similar to their application in wind turbines, drones can be equally helpful for the solar energy sector too.

Drones are being leveraged across the energy sector for monitoring purposes. Not only drones limit human involvement for inspection tasks, but it also provides refined data for research and analysis purposes.

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