The importance of drones in the energy industry
The energy industry is seeing a great deal of change thanks to drone technology. Inspections are necessary for energy sectors such as solar, wind, oil, and gas, but these inspections can be time-consuming and expensive. Having drones fly over the utility sites allows damage to be identified faster and problems to be stopped before they get worse.
By using drone programs, businesses can make better decisions. In the energy industry, drones provide practical solutions for everyday problems and support business efforts to avoid hazardous man-hours, reduce maintenance, inspections, and repairs costs, and increase efficiencies.
In the traditional inspection process, planes, helicopters, and professional climbers were used to inspect gas facilities, solar farms, and offshore oil fields. In the past, consultants took up a lot of time creating safety documents before sending specialized personnel to examine windmills and turbines. Now, drones make it much simpler for this to happen.
Inspecting solar farms with drones
As renewable energy targets change constantly, solar companies are enhancing the efficiency of their energy plants, and drones are playing a critical role in ensuring their customers have reliable energy at affordable prices.
A solar farm's life span depends on regular and efficient maintenance, and because solar farms cover large areas of land, inspections can take a long time and cost a lot of money. With drone surveys, companies can reduce inspection costs in half, increasing their efficiency and staying on top of operations maintenance.
Inspectors have traditionally walked through farms with handheld infrared cameras during solar inspections, which were laborious and time-consuming. It would take people a long time and a lot of money to inspect and record solar inspection information on the ground.
A full aerial survey can be performed using Hammer Missions, a drone such as the Matrice 300 RTK, and a hybrid thermographic camera such as the Zenmuse H20T at a fraction of the cost of using a helicopter.
Drones In Wind Energy
Electricity generated from renewable sources will overtake coal in 2025. To maximize return on investment, wind farm owners must ensure their wind turbines are maintained at peak efficiency and extend the life of their three-bladed assets.
Turbine components are constantly exposed to hail, snow, lightning, rain, salt, and dust. There are other causes of turbine blade damage, including extreme load buckling or manufacturing defects that cause blade de-bonding.
Using drones, operators can fly anywhere on a turbine to assess its functionality, damage and ways to improve its performance.
When the inspection process would have taken days and required expensive equipment and manpower, the process now gives accurate and up-to-the-minute results about what needs to be changed or repaired.
Nacelle: Crack, Lightning traces, damage, paint peeling odd, corrosion, oil splits,
Tower: Damage, Crack, corrosion, paint peeling off, corrosion
Hub: Loose Connection, Skewness, Damage
Blade: Cracks, peeling paint, damages, deterioration, lightning traces, water penetration
Using Drones to Inspect Power Lines
Power line inspections using drones are becoming more popular among utilities.
To keep costs low, keep resources efficient, and restore power as quickly as possible, regular inspections and timely maintenance are crucial. Traditional methods, however, fall short of the ideal. In most cases, power grid operators inspect their power lines with low-flying helicopters and on-the-ground workers. This method has several disadvantages:
Slow outage management - Because of their weight and size, helicopters are less suitable for power line inspections.
Various systems - Throughout the inspection process, utilities may use a variety of different systems.
There are several factors that make power grid operators at risk, including working in challenging terrain and in adverse weather.
Hammer Missions allow drones to map an area quickly and efficiently, zipping past power lines and towers while avoiding any potential hazards. Because drones are so agile, small, and light, they can cover a lot of ground that traditional aerial vehicles can't. And, since they're not manned, they aren't dangerous.
When Hammer is configured correctly, the resulting flight path avoids the power lines attached to the utility pylon. In all cases, the correct picture overlap is maintained so that the resulting photos can be uploaded to Hammer Hub for post-processing.
Drones in Oil and Gas
For the oil and gas industry to meet government standards, it relies heavily on inspections. With the many advantages drones provide the oil and gas industry, we believe that we will see drones on most oil rigs and pipeline sites around the world in the not too distant future.
Drones are already used by the industry to detect damage, corrosion, and other maintenance issues. In just a few hours, a drone can capture data to produce high-resolution maps and timelines and keep operations running.
As a result of drone technology, oil and gas companies are reducing hazardous working hours. Using drones for inspections can lead to efficiency gains of up to 33 percent, and a 50 percent reduction in inspection costs, according to industry sources.
To conduct inspections that would traditionally require significant staff hours and put employees at risk, many oil and gas companies are implementing drone programs.
In the energy industry, safety is a top priority, and drones allow companies to reduce the risks associated with humans entering confined spaces or other dangerous areas. A drone can perform inspections of chimneys and smokestacks, storage tanks, and important production units at refineries as well as jetties and hazardous environments without humans being present.
We hope this post has provided you with an insight into the importance of drones in the energy industry.
As we explored above, drones can help maximize energy production and safely deliver clean energy to humanity by performing repeated and consistent preventative inspections.
To learn more about our enterprise solutions, including mission collaboration, flight analytics and more please contact us at email@example.com