How drone technology is helping the energy industry

Drones can be a nuisance, fun, or useful depending on who you ask. Making the news for many of the wrong reasons, drones have gotten a bit of a bad rap. But it’s thanks to drone technology that we are able to get stunning footage at major events like downhill skiing at the Olympics, or a birds-eye-view of other events.
Drones also play an important role in getting our electricity delivered to us. With thousands upon thousands of miles of transmission lines, many transmission system operators are turning to drones to help with their inspection. Of course, you and I should not fly drones close to power lines, but for those who are highly skilled and trained in the use of these tools, using a drone can help detect faults and assess the quality of a line leading to a more efficient replacement regime and less downtime.
Not only electricity networks, but gas, water, and oil pipes and infrastructure can be examined using drones. Solar farms can send out a drone to do a quick visual inspection of a malfunctioning panel in a field, or a wind turbine operator can take a visual look at the blades from close up, without having to scale the tower.
Of course, being a relatively new technology, regulations are playing catch-up in guiding this budding industry. For many companies, the regulatory hurdles and uncertainties on the lawful uses of drones has put the brakes on widescale deployments for some; but the possibilities do seem endless.