How drones can improve efficiency in the African energy sectors
Every day there are millions of drones flying over our skies, and hundreds of thousands of unmanned aerial vehicles getting licensed every year. It will take less than a decade to witness a shift in what was once the norm when it came to the aviation industry. Drones are way past the days when they were used as toys by remote control hobbyists. Today drones are used to delivering fast foods or medical equipment, taking group selfie photos, carrying out agricultural surveys and crop protection, rescues and firefighting, and a lot more.
What’s more remarkable is the high level of competition among drone users. To maintain an edge over the market, a brutal innovation game seems to be inspiring ingenuity and creativity that is stretching drone solutions deeper into the fourth industrial revolution. One sector that stands poised to gain immensely from drone services is the energy sector.
Most of the energy infrastructure powering African towns and villages are scattered in far-flung remote areas resulting in serious challenges when carrying out inspections, monitoring, and the maintenance of facilities. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) now offer sophisticated capabilities that can help energy and utility companies overcome this hurdle.
Drones will reduce the risk of human injury or the likelihood of an accident as they can perform most of the dangerous inspection roles remotely. Equipped with powerful sensors, features, and technologies, the level of precision and accuracy on the advanced models is highly reliable. Here are ways in which energy companies in Africa can immensely benefit from the adoption of drone use.
- Avoid dangerous conditions by improving safety inspections
Anytime you see a utility worker on-site, they are donning safety gear or equipment. That is due to their exposure to hazardous situations while at work. For instance, an inspection of a wind turbine poses a great deal of risk to the inspector. The inspections cover most forms of traditional power generation including transmission and distribution.
2. Fast-track operations
Drone inspection will drastically reduce inspection times, bring down labor costs, and reduce the users’ exposure to risk. Carrying out manual inspections is not only time-consuming but exposes the users to tremendous risk.
3. Capture high-quality data
Ground-based data fails to capture the quality and efficiency provided for by drones. For instance, professional multi-rotor drones can even carry out thermal and RBG imagery. Helicopters can equally capture a large amount of data over a long distance but they are hampered by the cost-constrain factor. In addition, helicopters are unable to hover close to residential areas and find it hard to capture finer details. Minor details such as rust, faulty insulators, missing pins, and power lines cannot be captured while hovering in a chopper.
Without the use of drone technology, inspecting wind power turbines has to be done manually. That means utility workers will be kitted up in safety gear and climb up. The exposure to risk is very high if anything happens to go wrong. The work is also tedious and consumes a great deal of time. Drones offer efficiency when inspecting flower farms and point out any defects before they eventually graduate into failures.
A solar energy company can survey other potential locations for erecting new solar infrastructure. The drone will give accurate an accurate description of the topography, analyze the data and predict the best location where the solar panels can be placed. The process takes 90 percent less time than the use of traditional surveying and design.