10 Use of Drones in Energy Sector

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The energy sector is always a perennially challenging domain. There are certain constant risks associated with provision of energy and utilization of electricity in terms of individual ventures. Similarly, there is a continuous requirement to inspect and monitor the gear needed to provide this essential element. Drones have been playing a pivotal role in assisting in the seamless functioning of things irrespective of the source of energy, whether fossil fuels, solar, wind or others. Many of you might not be familiar with the diverse range of applications for UAVs in the energy sector.

However, once you go through these ten uses for drones, you will definitely get acquainted with how drones are going to help improve the productivity in this sector and reduce the costs associated with the energy that you need to pay in order to live out your days on this planet.

Functionality of solar panels

Recently Green Tech Media published an article that emphasized the various uses of drones in the field of solar energy. Most of this work needs hands-on installation and maintenance so machines such as drones can really help reduce the overall costs and enhance productivity. The article informs that continuous monitoring of individual solar panels with the help of drones is beneficial in ensuring their appropriate functioning. Quite often, these solar panels are not properly installed or configured in wrong orientations and hence are unable the produce the energy that is required. Imagery captured with the help of drones offers an opportunity to carry out real time analysis of the productivity and also to figure out if any recalibration is required.

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Transport of tools and equipment to hazardous areas

There are numerous areas and tasks that are hazardous for humans to be around or they have to troubleshoot associated with the energy sector. Drones are not advanced as much currently to make their way to these areas and repair any damages to different machines or get a massive segment of a power plant back online when it is not functioning properly. A small team of technicians may be designated the responsibility to get these installments to function properly in case a malfunctioning occurred. The lower the number of people involved in the process, the lower is the probability of people getting hurt or injured. Despite the fact that drones are not equipped at present to carry out complex repair and maintenance tasks, yet they can be extremely helpful in transporting the requisite tools and equipment rather than sending more humans to conduct life-threatening operations.

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Monitoring of Oil Rigs

The oil and the gas industry has pioneered the use of drones in enhancing the productivity and efficiency of their operations. An article published in the NY Times informs that drones are being employed to perform certain operations in off shore oil rigs since there is always a high probability of a disaster waiting to occur with highly pressurized rigs. So, drones can be used to inspect these oil rigs frequently. This used to be the job of specially trained personnel who had to work while being suspended from ropes or had to build scaffolding to analyze damages or areas of complication. Drones have made it possible to render the inspection process as comprehensive as it can get and no humans are required to be deployed to accomplish the seemingly dangerous tasks. According to the article, the drone inspection flights saves up to 80% of the cost in contrast to that when inspection was being conducted by humans.

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Installation of solar panels

The leading solar companies of the world are burning midnight oil to enhance this process. As soon as it is ready for deployment, the cost of installing solar panels should decrease immensely. The reduction in cost is the primary driver behind the efforts being put forward by the solar panel giants and they are not too far away in ensuring that a large number of people are able to use this renewable source of energy without having to spend an arm and a leg. However, the upfront cost and installation of the gear are the main reasons a lot of people are hesitating to use solar energy solutions. Once the drones get the requisite prowess to install solar panels and get the entire equipment up and running, the time and effort saved will result in the installation prices plummeting and thereby allowing more and more people access to this renewable source of energy.

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 Monitoring of power plants

There are power plants of different capacities and types. Some of them convert coal into energy while others harness the power of nuclear energy to produce electricity. There are numerous areas in these power plants that require to be monitored continuously but are unsafe for humans to be around or to troubleshoot. Lucky for us, there are certain drones that are immune to the effects of hostile environments or emissions that would otherwise be dangerous for humans. An article was published at Shell Global’s website recently reveals that the company is exploring different uses of drones related to inspection of areas that were once considered unsafe for humans but were important for the efficient running of power plants. Experts are conducting comprehensive research to enhance productivity and help maintain the equipment in an efficient manner.

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Analysis of outages

Power plants working on fossil fuels are not able to produce electricity continuously and hence succumb to power outages. This is generally related to harsh weather events that adversely affect the equipment and it becomes difficult for the company to analyze the extent of damage. Before the introduction of drones in this industry, the loss of power was identified complaints submitted by clients which resulted in undesired latency on part of the service providers. Now, drones are deployed as part of the response fleet to identify the extent of damage and assist experts and technicians who intend to make the necessary repairs by delivering tools and required equipment at the desired location.

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Time saving analysis tool

Power Magazine published a report recently which claimed that the analytical tools that can be integrated in the brain of a drone can end up saving enormous amount of money on part of energy corporations. Time is of essence when it comes to a new venture by an energy company planning to construct a new facility or install more panels to a certain area and the time required to determine an ideal location. It can take plenty of time for humans to scour a certain area in a bid to find the perfect location that is in the vicinity of specified elements. However, drones make it possible to assess wide areas and broadcast analyzed data in real time to production engineers.

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Inspection of wind turbines

You might not have heard as much about wind energy in terms of renewable sources of energy as you would have about solar energy or electricity. However, this is an avenue that is expanding with every passing day. However, the installation and repair and maintenance of the equipment used to operate these turbines has been tremendously expensive up until the integration of drones in this industry. Drones are being used to identify, asses and ascertain the functioning and effectiveness the different parts of the equipment involved. Updated and precise data can be retrieved via drones with regard to the need for repairs while it took several days to get the necessary information when it was left to the humans to carry out the required inspection and monitoring. The usage of drones in this industry can result in massive decrease in upfront and ongoing costs; thereby making the wind energy a reliable and cost-effective source of renewable energy.

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Determination of ideal location for solar panels

Intricate software is now being augmented in drones to enhance their capacity in determining the ideal spots for the installation of solar panels according to a recently published article in The Guardian. The algorithms and software involved allows the drone to aptly identify the best place for the installation of solar panels while allowing the engineers and technicians to take into account numerous other considerations that were once considered a complicated affair in the selection of a site. This process will ensure ideal placement of solar panels and ensure that their orientation is appropriate to produce optimal power.

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Thermal imagery for enhanced productivity of solar panels.

Drones are now being equipped with thermal imagery cameras and infrared gear that assist them in assessing the productivity of solar panels in a manner far better than humans. They are able to capture aerial images that provide broader opportunities of analysis to experts; thereby helping them identify the malfunctioning panels and clusters that need to be oriented appropriately for optimum productivity. As has been discussed above, the technology required to repair and maintain solar panels is still in the process of development but large amounts of time is saved by the inspection conducted by UAVs which could result in steep cuts in maintenance costs and offer sustainable power for human consumption. The reduction in time by virtue of the inspection carried out by a drone offers swifter results and provides reliable information that could be used for the modification of equipment as and when required. Here is an informative video that will provide insight into this technology.

Conclusion

The world of energy is changing at a rapid and unbelievable pace. Drones are fast processing machines that have the ability to transmit data for analysis to experts which tends to enhance the productivity of energy corporations. At this point in time, it might not result in immediate reduction in costs with regard to energy but it has the capability to ensure reduced outages and enhanced delivery of service to the consumers all over the world.

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