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Drones Poised to Reduce Operating Costs for Energy Industry

Cheap drones are poised to boost output and cut operating expenses for the energy industry.

The unmanned aerial vehicles are generally faster and less expensive than people, and can go places that may not be safe for workers. As costs fall, and their capabilities increase, drones are spotting leaks in natural gas pipelines, helping utilities inspect transmission and distribution lines and evaluating thermal power plants, according to a Bloomberg NEF report Monday. While they’re limited by factors including battery life and the systems that help them avoid obstacles in flight, researchers are working to make them more useful.

Utilities can also use them to inspect transmission and distribution lines, and they aided in repairing Puerto Rico’s electrical grid after Hurricane Maria slammed into the island last year. Drones can also aid mining companies, find leaks in gas pipelines, provide security at power plants and inspect the interior of oil tankers.


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