Drones, green energy guardians

Published on Monday, 21 March 2016

For the past ten years, drones – developed in a military setting since WWI – have found their place even in an evolved setting. With strong technological development that allows for the creation of sophisticated software and installation of high definition video cameras and thermal imaging sensors, the pilotless aircrafts have become valuable tools in several different fields. In the energy field, in particular, drones are able to make all the difference, monitoring installations, performing maintenance and intervening in cases of emergency. This is demonstrated by two companies that have understood the potential of these devices, taking advantage of them to the best of their ability. Aerial Power LTD was the first organization to utilize unmanned aerial vehicles specifically designed to clean solar panels, which were often situated in arid or desert areas and therefore in direct contact with dust and sand. The Aerial Power drones improve the performance and the time duration of the solar installations. By removing dust automatically from the surfaces of glass panels, it’s possible to cut the maintenance costs by as much as 70%, while at the same time, recording an energy production increase of 30% every month. 

Aeorum, on the other hand, takes advantage of the drones to gather valuable information on photovoltaic panels. Through various sensors and a series of photographs taken in flight, you’re able to understand in a short amount of time if the panel requires maintenance or cleaning. All of this is, obviously, thanks to a software called HelioXscan, which is able to analyze the data gathered and developed by Aeorum.

Thanks to their innovative projects, both companies are able to enjoy their recognition as winners of the last INCENSe call, coordinated by the Enel Group. In fact, it is Enel who has appeared among the first energy providers to understand the potential of drones in an energy setting, considering them fundamental in safeguarding security as they eliminate risks for the operators. Inspections for short stretches of power lines, most of them located in places with little accessibility or during emergency situations like snow storms, is an example of the risky operations that are now carried out by the drones. Similar benefits were recorded for the maintenance of the solar and hydroelectric plants by Enel Green Power: the pilotless aircrafts, able to fly over and analyze 4 hectares and 10 thousand solar panels in less than one hour, are efficient and allow cost reductions and simplification of work.

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