Sun, Sep 09, 2018 - Page 15 News List

Power firms look to drones to maintain grids, plants

Uncrewed aerial vehicles might inspect, and could even repair, power plants and grids in remote areas, saving lives and money

By Nathaniel Bullard and Claire Curry  /  Bloomberg Opinion

Then there is the world of oil and gas. Drones with potent “sniffers” can detect methane leaks coming from oil and gas pipelines at 1,000 times the accuracy of traditional methods, saving pipeline owners significant money that is lost from leaked product and potentially from fines.

Even this relatively simple application could have significant business — and pollution and climate — implications, as there is an enormous range of reported values of actual emissions in the oil and gas supply chain.

Not everything is immediately up and up for industrial drones. Regulation in most countries demands that drone pilots stay within line of sight of drones, while heavy batteries limit their flight time to 20 minutes. The market is fragmented, with a variety of start-ups offering complex services and overlapping solutions.

However, those conditions can and probably will change. Technology improves and regulations evolve.

That buzzing rotor sound overhead is economics. It is also business.

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