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Drones Are Taking Over—Here’s How You Can Benefit

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Published in PXYZ

Everyone who’s seen The Terminator knows the story—armies of robots are coming, and they’re not here to walk the dog.

It’s true that advancements in robotics (especially aerial robotics) has skyrocketed in recent years, but we haven’t quite reached “machine apocalypse” levels of self-awareness yet.

If you’re a developer, solar asset owner, engineering or construction firm, drones are here to stay. But rather than fear the new overlords, let’s learn how to derive the most benefit from these incredible tools to make your life a whole lot easier—because if you aren’t using drones to their full potential, rest assured that your competitors are.

Drones Help Your Project Get Off the Ground Faster

Tom Werner of SunPower claims that drones can accelerate a full site assessment by 90%. As I pointed out in an earlier post, Tom takes a bit of creative license, but the gist of his statement about drone-powered assessments is absolutely true—drones definitely do accelerate the site assessment process, in many cases dramatically so.

HD imagery combined with basic contours helps engineering teams assess sites faster and more efficiently than traditional approaches, and full topographic mapping can be conducted up to 50% faster.

And while your project won’t be finished in a single afternoon that’s still crazy-fast.

Drones Help Your Asset Earn More

Asset owners have their hands full overseeing fleets of power plants around the globe, and recovering lost revenue from under-performing sites has always been a challenge. Before thermal scanning from aerial drones, there was no practical way to easily identify potential panel warranty issues or more broadly lost revenue.

Using drones to conduct thermal scans finally offers a cost-effective, practical method to identify underperforming solar assets, efficiently directing crews to problem areas as fast as possible.

What’s more is that thermal scanning allows you to visualize and calculate estimated lost revenue over the life of your asset, letting you determine which issues need fixing—and which can wait. Virtually every solar power plant pro-forma assumes a .5% degradation rate on the panels themselves. And while it is generally true the panels degrade at this rate, actual power plant degradation tends to be about 3x that rate. In fact across over a sample of 250 MW of power plants we’ve assessed, we’ve found an effective average power plant degradation rate closer to 1.5%. That can literally mean millions of dollars over 20 year lifespan of a larger power plant.

Drones Cut Down on Construction Costs

It’s been claimed that drones can cut down on up to 30% of the construction cost on new assets.

While PXYZ takes a somewhat more conservative stance, drones can drive between 10 and 15% better efficiency from you field crews using aerial production monitoring during the construction cycle.

Given labor’s participation in the build costs of utility scale power plants, 15% adds up—especially where your bank account is concerned.

More Profitable, Front to Back

Whether you work on the front end of a project’s lifecycle or the back end, one thing is certain—drones positively impact the profitability and performance of your business, period.

With topography scans before you begin, all the way to asset valuations when it comes time to sell, Precision’s aerial robotics services fully cover your project from start to finish.

It’s true that machines are taking over – just be happy that they’ve decided to grace your project with accurate, rapid, efficient results.

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