Wind turbines are a reliable and growing source of electric power in the US as well as globally. Wind turbines work on land or offshore locations wherever consistent wind patterns keep the blades spinning. Wind turbines require regular maintenance and inspection to ensure proper operation and safety. In the past, the task of inspecting turbines required risky efforts by humans to climb and visually inspect turbine structures. Drone technology offers a safe and effective alternative to the vital work of inspecting wind turbines. With effective drone training, wind farm operators can improve efficiency and lower costs.
Manual wind turbine inspections have been slow and arduous tasks. Qualified inspectors must climb the structure and carefully view every side of every blade to detect damage or structural issues. Some inspectors used handheld devices and cell phones to photograph suspicious sights for documentation. Inspection of a single field could take many months of person-hours. Commercial drone courses enable operators to work with varying types navigation software, and they can compete an inspection in a fraction of the time required for manual effort. Owners can sponsor drone training specific to their needs.
Drones may transform the Operations and Maintenance sector of the wind turbine industry. Even as wind turbines grow in popularity as renewable energy solutions, the difficulty of maintaining them can limit the locations and usefulness of this beneficial energy technology. Cameras with advanced optics can find defects and flaws with detail beyond the human eye alone. Drones solve the problems of increased maintenance, access to remote and difficult areas, and offshore maintenance and inspections. Commercial drone courses can equip energy producers with staff capability to pilot drones and retrieve precise measures and data.
Energy producers try to locate turbines in areas that meet standards for winds but also in areas where turbines represent a high use of the land. Power companies use easements along existing properties but also locate them in sparsely populated areas, and offshore. Remote and offshore locations often have difficult access and exposure to harsh weather conditions. Drones can operate in harsh weather conditions and are especially well adapted for offshore inspections.
Drones offer flexibility for connecting to computer systems and networks. Owners can choose among their favored digital information management systems and input data from drones for analysis. The wide range of compatibility with platforms and systems make drones useful for nearly every wind energy system.
Drones work well as camera platforms that operators can control with precision from local or remote locations. Emerging technological innovation can combine drone platforms with Artificial Intelligence codes and Augmented Reality software. AI innovations have already reduced the tedium for pilots so that the pilots observe and oversee many routine functions. The limited autonomy lowers operator demands and pilot fatigue. Pilots can spend more time on the mission goals.