Maintaining wind turbines is no easy feat, and it usually involves engineers climbing to dangerous heights and inspecting them in person. However, a Portuguese company has found a new, safer way to carry out turbine maintenance – using drones.
Pro-Drone, a start up based in Portugal, uses drones with flight algorithms programmed right in that allow them to fly at exactly the height and distance they need to to accurately inspect wind turbines. They’re also able to collect and store data thanks to their sensors.
It seems almost each week that someone is finding a new and innovative use for drones and this example with wind energy is just the latest in the long line of applications.
Renewable energy is becoming more and more appealing, but so is lowering the cost for access to that renewable energy. These drones could be the answer, lowering operating costs and keeping this form of energy production competitive.
Right now, the technology used in Pro-Drone’s drones has decreased turbine inspection time to an hour, and they are aiming to eventually get that down to half an hour. Not only does that save time, but it means that the turbines are out of operation for a shorter time.
After the drones complete their inspection and collect relevant data, they can store it in a cloud-based system where inspectors can easily access and analyze it. This involves another long-term plan, to one day have the system diagnose the potential for future problems.
Pro-Drone takes renewable energy very seriously, and their hope for their current drone project is that it will completely reshape the way we are able to collect, store and research wind energy.