A survey by Power Engineering International has shown a big appetite in the power and utilities sector to make use of drone or Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) technology.

The survey also indicated regulation of drone technology and lack of awareness about what drones can do for the power sector as key reasons why their use has not been more widespread up to now.

78 per cent of respondents who do not currently engage with drones plan to do so in the near future, while just 48 per cent of those polled are already using them.

Such is the growth in appetite for UAVs that almost 64 per cent of power professionals surveyed said they would have a preference for bringing the use of drone inspections in-house, rather than relying on external firms.

At the moment, 38 per cent of those surveyed who use drones, use external companies for data collection and analysis.

In response to the question, ‘What, in your view, are the main issues affecting the success of drone technology in the power/utility sector?’, an overwhelming 35 per cent of those polled believed unfavourable regulation, or lack of regulation, was hindering the more widespread use of the technology. Slowness in utility recognition of drones were cited by 28 per cent while 17 per cent believe lack of qualified or experienced pilots was a negative factor. Unqualified or reckless operators were thought to be instrumental in negative attitudes according to 12 per cent.

The responses to the question, ‘What are the obstacles to your firm of achieving that potential?’ were multifarious. These included budget and human resource concerns, failure to recognise potential areas of use and selecting the correct software to interpret the data. Slow adoption to new technologies by management was also frequently cited in response to this question.

Overall a high proportion of the respondents felt their companies can secure real value from the use of the technology. Industry appreciation of the technology tallies with recent research, showing drone applications across the global power and utilities industry could be worth as much as $9.46bn a year up to 2021.


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Power Engineering International Survey