22 Apr Fast and Efficient: Drone Inspection for Solar and Wind Farms
In 2020 the share of energy from renewable sources grew to 28% of global electricity supply. Wind farms registered an average 11% electricity production year-on-year growth between 2018 and 2020, while the average annual growth for solar sources was 23.5%.
Renewables are becoming an important source of energy all around the globe. With supportive national policies and gradual switch from fossil fuels, the share of renewable energy will only increase in the future.
Drones Ensure Operational Efficiency
There are 58.000 active wind turbines in the US alone. In addition, there are more than 2.500 utility-scale solar farms. As with any other infrastructure, regular inspection and maintenance becomes a cumbersome task for such vast areas.
In search for efficiency, operators turn to drones and automatic data analytics to reduce labour and time, required to perform such tasks.
Aerial Solar Farm Inspection
Utility scale solar farms cover a vast land area. Without the birds-eye view, the task of manually inspecting a solar park can take weeks or even months.
Drones and UAVs, on the other hand, can deliver large amounts of data in no time. Aerial solar farm inspection provides detailed RGB footage from multiple angles to aid engineers in decision making, allowing them to spot visual defects. Damages, corrosion and any other defects can be assessed swiftly and avoiding any potential risks. By equipping drones with thermal and other sensors, operators can get an in-depth view of solar farm status and operations.
Drones are also employed for aerial surveying in the solar farm construction phase, providing a detailed area map and enabling engineers to maximize the land usage.
Aerial Wind Farm Inspection
Wind turbines present another challenge for energy producers. The inspections must be performed at height and in difficult to access places.
Hands down drones are the most efficient inspection tool for such tasks easily beating telephotography or manual inspection.
Even consumer grade UAVs can produce high quality video footage and get up close to the object they are inspecting (with a licenced, skilled pilot, of course) for a fraction of the cost.
Infrared thermographic cameras can be employed to spot structural defects and potential weaknesses in the blade.
Automating Aerial Footage Analysis
Yet acquiring inspection footage is only one part of the job – and drones are very efficient at doing that.
The larger problem lies with inspection footage analysis. Just imagine having to review aerial footage of a 2.500 acre solar farm. Thus companies are turning to Computer Vision software to automate aerial footage analysis and improve their processes up to 20 times.
Computer Vision software uses object detection and AI analysis to spot defects and imperfections, highlight trends or identify anomalies which can be invisible to the naked eye. In addition, it can crunch vast amounts of data in no time.
EasyFlow provides specialized aerial footage analysis models for solar and wind farm operators, as well as third party UAV operators engaged in energy site inspection. The service is available all over the world – you only have to upload the footage for the analysis.
Looking for ways to make your renewable energy production more efficient?