Drones for Wind Turbine Inspection


Courtesy of Navigant Consulting, Inc. (NCI)

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Inspection Services for Wind Turbines: Global Market Assessment and Forecasts

By the beginning of 2015, there were nearly 270,000 individual wind turbines operating globally. The more than 800,000 blades spinning on these turbines are battered by the elements over time and gradually wear out. Deterioration can cause reduced energy production in early stages and catastrophic and costly blade collapse if left unnoticed. This is driving a brisk business in wind turbine blade inspections, a role that has traditionally been accomplished from the ground with simple visual inspections or more complicated and risky rope or platform access. A new approach using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), commonly known as drones, is rapidly muscling in as a middle option.

UAVs are proving to be more than a novelty. Commercial-grade UAVs handled by professional operators can provide higher-resolution visual inspections than ground-based inspections. They also provide an inspection that is quicker, easier, and less costly and risky than rope access techniques. Multi-rotor UAV units with robust stability in strong winds, strong battery life, and sharp optics are essential. Equally important is the integration of data analysis systems and inspection services that can help automate data processing and analysis to mitigate the photo fatigue that can occur photographing, analyzing, and cataloging vast blade surface image data across fleets of wind turbines. According to Navigant Research, cumulative global revenue for wind turbine UAV sales and inspection services is expected to reach nearly $6 billion by 2024.

This Navigant Research report analyzes the global market for UAVs for wind turbine blade inspection. The study provides an analysis of the market dynamics, industry structure, and technological features driving the market for UAV hardware and inspection services. Global market forecasts for units and revenue, broken out by segment (multi-rotor UAVs and UAV inspection services) and region, extend through 2024. The report also examines the key regional regulations related to UAVs, as well as the competitive landscape.

Key Questions Addressed:

  • Is the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) to inspect wind turbines a novelty?
  • How many wind turbines need to be inspected in all global and regional markets?
  • What are the regulatory policies related to the use of UAVs for inspections around the world?
  • What are the key technologies being used for this work?
  • Who are the key players in the UAV industry at this moment, on both the hardware and services sides?
  • How much revenue is expected to be generated from UAV sales and associated services over the next 10 years?

Who needs this report?

  • Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) vendors
  • UAV inspection services companies
  • Wind turbine vendors and service providers
  • Wind turbine owners
  • Wind turbine insurance companies
  • Wind turbine blade manufacturers
  • Investor community

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