With the rapid growth in the renewable energy installation especially of solar and wind, the up keeping and maintenance of these installations is also critical and complex. The larger solar installations are spread over few kilometers,also sometimes on the rooftops, whereas the wind farms are mostly in remote places like above the hill tops or offshore. More than the installations of these power plants the later management is highly labour dependent and very expensive too.
Research made by the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory shows that though the solar panels’ estimated life is 20 years approximately, is the underperformance of panels is increasing day by day. Blades of windmills must be inspected with higher frequency in the first year of installation, they wear out over the time, develop chips and cracks as they are always exposed to the extreme climate conditions. If those are left unchecked or unattended, their deterioration reduces energy production potential. And such deterioration can cause collapsing of blades. So it is important to maintain the solar and wind farms on regular basis by experts.
Small Unmanned aerial vehicles (sUAVs) – commonly known as drones – help provide quick and cost-effective monitoring and maintenance of very large solar farms and wind farms that too effortlessly.
As of the year 2015, there were 268,550 commercial-scale wind turbines installed globally meaning more than 805,000 blades need inspection every year. Over and above hundreds and thousands of wind turbine installations are expected to begin every year across the globe. This inspection work is being presently carried out by the skilled inspectors (humans) with abseiling ropes from helicopters or inspection from the ground with binoculars of telephoto camera lenses. Drones with very high-resolution cameras and post data analysis are going to play a vital role in wind turbine inspections according to a report recently published by Navigant Research. Thus eliminating human error and avoiding hazards.
Recently DroneDeploy, the leading cloud software for commercial drones along with DJI, the world leader in making drones and camera technology have joined hands to increase the efficiency of the solar panel installation and inspection via their technique of ‘drone thermal imagery capture and analytics.’ “Roof inspection hasn’t changed significantly over the past decade. Introducing safe and accurate drone-based 3D models to replace survey wheels and measuring tapes is a step forward for the industry” said Ryan Tong, Director of Marketing at DJI.
The inspection of wind turbines and solar panels installations by Drones can be a game changer in renewable energy industry.