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United States: Drone Innovation Improving Wind Energy

5 min.

United States: Drone Innovation Improving Wind Energy

Enel Green Power’s “Autonomous Drones for Wind” project is transforming the way we use drones for plant inspections, and is providing better data in less time and with fewer safety risks for operators.

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The drone rises into flight with a simple click of a button, heads toward the wind turbine it recognizes as its determined goal, inspects it, and returns to base with the images gathered during its mission. The inspection is completely autonomous, safe, and highly accurate.

As drone technology continues to evolve, so does our ability to enhance operations and maintenance activities at our wind farms across the country. The use of drones is an innovation that is rapidly changing how the company maintains its renewable energy plants.

 

Faster, More Effective

The introduction of the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) into the inspection and monitoring of wind plants is a process that EGP in the United States implemented to identify the most innovative, standardized scalable solutions.

The drones took off in flight for initial testing at the Caney River wind farm in Kansas and the Origin wind farm in Oklahoma. Since then, after promising results during the scouting phase, EGP launched the Autonomous Drones for Wind project.

The project’s goals include reducing inspection costs, streamlining the inspection process, and extracting more value from the data provided.

The Osage wind farm, also in Oklahoma, was the test site for the first autonomous flight of a drone used for an End of Warranty Inspection for turbines.

 

"The results were excellent: 18-20 turbines inspected in a day instead of 4-5 using the traditional method. It gave us faster service with greater image quality."
Demetrio Malara, Innovation Manager Wind

 

Learning to Fly

The Autonomous Drones for Wind project is based on technological innovation, and it has immediate relevance for the professional growth of our team working at various wind plants in the USA.

 

"In conjunction with the testing and verification of equipment and solutions, our Operation & Maintenance (O&M) teams are being trained on the use of drones."

 

The goal is to certify more drone pilots, and through the collective expertise of qualified O&M teams, EGP will be able to carry out fleet-wide wind turbine inspections in-house with autonomous drones.

 

Not Just Wind

Looking ahead, the experience and skills gained in the project underway in the USA will become a common asset for all EGP wind farms around the world, as well as with other technologies, including solar and hydropower.

 

"The Autonomous Drones for Wind project is a sign of EGP’s commitment to innovation, enabling us to move forward with the inspection of wind farms and other technologies."

 

EGP is committed to being at the forefront of drone technology, enhancing our operations and maintenance activities at our plants across the country.

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