Cumulative global revenue for unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) sales and inspection services for wind turbines is expected to reach nearly $6 billion by 2024, according to a new report from Navigant Research.
To inspect the blades of the more than 270,000 wind turbines operating globally, says Navigant Research, technicians have traditionally relied on binoculars and field scopes from the ground or have scaled the turbines with the help of ropes or cables. Today, UAVs are providing a safer option and also higher-resolution imaging.
“The use of drones for wind turbine blade inspection is proving to be more than a novelty,” says Jesse Broehl, senior research analyst with Navigant Research. “Current inspection techniques from the ground and by rope or platform access will not be replaced; however, they will increasingly be augmented by drone inspections, which bring certain advantages.”
According to the report, the emerging wind turbine UAV market is driven by the massive number of blades that need to be inspected for normal deterioration and for pre-end-of-warranty inspections. If uninspected, deterioration caused by the elements to the more than 800,000 blades in operation can result in reduced energy production and blade collapse.
The report, “Drones for Wind Turbine Inspection,” 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 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.
An executive summary of the report is available for free download here.