A report released on April 28 from Frost & Sullivan called Drones in the Global Power and Utilities Industry, Forecast to 2030, projects the market for drones in the power and utilities industry will continue to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 23.6 per cent, reaching US$515 million by 2030. The research group notes digital transformation trends in the utility sector and the adoption of drones for security measures are two primary conditions for the expected growth.
“Drones minimize the need to send human employees onsite and can be deployed for monitoring, operations, and maintenance services,” said Swagath Manohar, senior research analyst at Frost & Sullivan. “As the global power and utilities industry continues to tackle the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, drones can be potential game-changers in combating the challenges it poses.”
Frost & Sullivan notes the current adoption rate of drones in the power and utilities industry is less than 10 per cent globally, but it is steadily increasing as companies acknowledge the role of drones in providing reliable, safe and efficient inspections of power generation and transmission and distribution (T&D) assets.
North America is the most advanced regional drones services market, according to Frost & Sullivan, with large utilities in the United States already investing in in-house programs to inspect and maintain thousands of miles of T&D assets. Frost & Sullivan also notes in Asia-Pacific and South Asia the market is set to take off after 2020 regulatory frameworks are completed. Europe will see initial adoption of inspections of solar and wind assets, according to Frost & Sullivan, while LATAM experiences slow, steady growth over the forecast period.
Frost & Sullivan explains, that in the short term, in relation to COVID-19, power and utilities companies should focus on building operational resilience by leveraging drones and forming strategic partnerships with tech companies and service providers. Drone service providers, explains Frost & Sullivan, can also utilize this opportunity to explore new business models and services like performance contracts, pay-per-mile, and pay-per-time to improve their revenues.
“Power and utilities companies should explore the option of an in-house drone team in the long term,” said Manohar. “The current pandemic presents the right opportunity for them to test their strengths and weaknesses in developing their in-house drones capabilities and identify the right technology partner who can provide the required services.”