Drones have transformed aerial surveys and inspection services. Development in battery technology and sensors has vastly transformed the operations of drones. Drones are flying devices which carry cameras to areas that are difficult to access. The difficulty sometimes is likely to be physical or economical. The energy industry that includes oil & gas, renewable industry, and power & utility can employ drones primarily for inspection and real-time observation from remote locations. Until recently, engineers around the world would manually monitor oil wells, wind turbines, and oil and gas pipelines for any kind of inspections.
In terms of industry type, the drones market for the energy industry can be segmented into oil & gas, power & utility, and renewable energy. Operators of the energy industry are finding drone technology cost-effective, accurate, quick, and easy due to improved efficiency, powerful computers, and affordable drone technology.
Drones can be used for inspection and surveillance of drilling rigs in onshore and offshore operations in the oil & gas industry. Drones can also be used for integrity check of crude oil pipelines, running for thousands of kilometers on land. Identification of pipe failure, leakage identification, identification of crude oil stealing from pipeline are some operations that are highly time consuming and expensive if carried out manually.
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Drones can be employed for the inspection of cables, integrity check of cables and towers, and site surveillance in the power & utility industry. In the renewable energy industry, solar power plants, wind turbine farms are spread over very large areas. Surveillance, management, and quality check can be done with drones, which saves cost as well as the time involved in these regular operations.
Drones are available in the market with various specifications and type. However, a few existing players provide customized drones in accordance with the specific demand. Fixed winged drones, rotary blade drones, nano drones, and hybrid drones are commonly employed for inspection and surveillance operations.
Ease of operation itself is the driver for the drones market for energy industry. Drones are becoming a primary choice for inspection and surveillance applications due to the advancement of technology in drone manufacturing and high definition camera technology. Cost-effectiveness is another driver for the drones market for the energy industry. Oil companies are finding ways to cut cost incurred in exploration and inspection activities amidst low oil and gas prices. Drones are increasingly seen as smart technology for saving costs. Ease of accessing remote and difficult locations is the biggest advantage of drones. The only restraint to the drones market for energy industry is the norms and regulation for UAV usage. Drones can be employed for any undesirable terror activity by unsocial elements since they are easy to operate.
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The global drones market for energy industry is estimated to expand. North America is anticipated to lead the market due to its vast number of energy projects in oil and gas, and renewable energy (solar & wind). Asia Pacific, with its emerging economies such as India and China, is lucrative region for the drones market for energy industry. Asia Pacific has the highest population in the world, and increased development activities the region is projected to boost the demand for energy in the near future. Middle East & Africa is estimated be another lucrative region due to the vast number of oil and gas projects in the region.
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Key players operating in the drones market for energy industry include Aerovel, Altavian, Precision Hawk, Sky-Future, Skylark Drones Pvt Ltd, Leonardo – Società per azioni, Intel Deutschland GmbH, BAE Systems, AERODYNE GEOSPATIAL, and Airware.