About Jane Marsh

Jane, the founder and editor-in-chief of Environment.co, covers topics in renewable energy, green technology and the environment.

Drone Usage for Renewable Energy Development and Maintenance

The use of drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), dates back to 1849. Austria invaded Venice, sending human-contactless balloons over the city, which contained explosive materials. Advancements in drone technology allow for continued military utilization, as well as commercial and civilian use.

Drones recently joined the environmental industry, providing promising future aid to renewable energy development and maintenance. The small ascending computers can provide us with unique images of Earth, as natural TV programs show us. Drones may use their imaging abilities to survey and map the land and detect renewable energy system issues. They can also produce their own energy and limit package delivery emissions. Read on to know about the use of drones in renewable energy sector:

Surveying and Mapping

When evaluating potential renewable energy sites, like solar and wind farms, it is essential to calculate possible interference. Drones can move throughout these regions collecting data on wind currents, sun exposure, and the ecosystem. This system is integrated into the agricultural industry with light detection and ranging sensors (Lidar) attached to drones.

Renewable power companies use this system to survey and map energy sites. Like the Quantum Trinity F90+, popular commercial UAVs can reduce the time and greenhouse gases used in traditional land mapping practices. These devices can fly for 90-minute periods and track large regions of land.

Issue Detection

Once renewable energy systems are in place, drone use continues. Wind turbines benefit greatly from UAV intervention.

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Most turbines reach heights of 280 feet to allow for maximum wind capture. Unfortunately, this poses severe problems for maintenance workers. In the U.K., 163 workers suffered injuries while repairing wind power devices, and five workers died.

UAVs can reach heights of 400 feet, allowing them to evaluate issues safely and effectively. These detection methods are less expensive for renewable energy companies and enable workers to plan more efficient repairs. One can also use drones to detect solar panel problems.

Solar companies use UAVs to detect panel malfunctions from the ground. To increase the sustainability of this practice, companies can send drones to panel sites without workers present. This would further reduce greenhouse gas emissions by limiting the transportation process associated with maintenance.

Renewable Energy Drone Production

A recent development in the UAV industry allows drones to fuel themselves using wind power. The Saildrone is a device that harnesses its energy from small propellers, similar to the head of a wind turbine. Scientists are currently using them to collect and relay oceanic data, but their abilities are expanding.

Wind power-converting drones may act as a sustainable alternative to wind turbines. The UAVs in production fly in circular patterns with a kite attached. This maximizes the efficiency of wind capturing.

The energy would reach the Earth’s surface through an extended power cable, which is less environmentally disruptive than a turbine. The materials utilized in building a wind energy drone are less disruptive to the planet and require less greenhouse gas emissions in production.

Solar Delivery Drones

In 2013, Amazon revealed its idea to utilize drones to deliver packages efficiently. These UAVs would reportedly fly boxes to your doorstep in under 30 minutes, depending on your region. The incorporation of drones into the delivery industry could significantly reduce carbon emissions, preserving the atmosphere.

delivery-drone-amazon

With renewable energy-powered delivery UAVs, truck-induced air pollution, traffic congestion, and roadkill could decrease. Limiting these environmental harms can conserve the environment and increase biodiversity on Earth. You may ask yourself, “So, where are my sustainably delivered packages?”

Drone Regulations

The reason that, eight years later, we are still waiting for our drone-delivered Amazon purchases has to do with strict aircraft regulations. Each year, the U.S. government releases new guidelines for commercial UAV use. These regulations restrict further drone use by the renewable energy industry.

Restrictions on flying heights, speed, weight, certifications, site navigation, and more limit one’s ability to use UAVs for sustainability purposes. Innovators are working to develop green drone uses, but it will take time before they reach the commercial market. As their safety and abilities increase, the use of drones in renewable energy sector will grow at a rapid pace.

How Renewable Energy Manufacturing Has Become More Efficient

The world knows renewable energy offers extensive, far-reaching benefits that can help mitigate climate change. If we want to make progress, we need to move away from fossil fuels permanently. That’s an issue where most people agree. It is now evident there is another argument for renewable energy besides sustainability. This option has become much more efficient, both production- and cost-wise. Let us explore how renewable energy manufacturing has become more efficient in recent years:

renewable-energy-harvesting

Production Innovations Boost Effectiveness

Consider how renewable energy was received publicly 10 or 15 years ago. It wasn’t exactly an avenue that most individuals or businesses knew existed. There have been various challenges regarding implementation across America. Hurdles like government support and wide-spread education are examples.

That’s changed as more information has been released about how fossil fuels negatively affect our planet. It’s now evident that renewable energy prospects continue to grow annually — even during COVID-19. That’s largely due to how production methods have transformed over the past several years.

The renewable energy industry can now manufacture sources through smarter means. For example, we used to harness wind power from land-based turbines. Those opportunities have expanded as offshore capabilities are now more mainstream. This innovative progress has become applicable to other sources, too.

These new ideas are significantly responsible for how renewable energy has become more efficient. If we never changed our manufacturing processes, we couldn’t produce renewable energy on a large enough scale. There’s no denying that continuous innovations will make choices like solar, hydro and geothermal increasingly accessible.

As a result, we can enjoy more options as consumers. There’s also cost to consider — which unquestionably determines how efficiently people view renewable energy. They need to be even cheaper than fossil fuels.

ecofriendly-manufacturing

Costs Are Lower Than Ever Before

It is important to highlight how renewable energy has turned into an affordable alternative. This cost-efficiency will be necessary to help people choose renewable energy sources over fossil fuels. There are many reasons why prices for eco-friendly power have fallen.

1. Subsidies

The most significant components are subsidies. These government-backed incentives help manufacturers switch to alternative energy sources for less money. It’s also evident that options exist for individuals and businesses. People can access tax incentives to support their sustainable power pursuits financially.

2. Non-Profit Organizations

There’s also help from green non-profit organizations. Take GRID Alternatives Mid-Atlantic as an example. They provide free solar panel installation to households that can’t otherwise afford renewable energy. That’s a useful resource to help drive accessibility to these alternatives.

3. Investments

What about renewable energy investments? These endeavors are more prevalent than ever. If our country’s most influential figures put their money in renewable energy, we can expect to pay less for green power. Texas has the lowest energy costs in America — and they also use the most wind power. That’s not a coincidence.

These three points ensure that renewable energy becomes more affordable yearly. Various entities need to work together to ensure that sustainable options are accessible. They need to be more available than fossil fuels to ensure they catch on as alternatives.

Future of Renewable Energy Manufacturing

There’s a bright future for renewable energy. As a result of innovative and cost-effective manufacturing progress, Americans now have access to various eco-friendly power sources. If we can keep making strides regarding production, we should be able to create renewable energy on a far-reaching scale.

This process won’t happen overnight. It’s taken decades for renewable energy to be seen as even a viable alternative to harmful fossil fuels. But we’re in an ideal place right now. It shouldn’t be long before renewable energy becomes even more efficient. There’ll then be no excuse for people to keep using fossil fuels.

How Green Financing is Changing the Renewable Energy Market?

Growing interest in renewables is rapidly changing how energy projects are financed in America and around the world.

One of the biggest shifts has been an influx in outside money into the industry in the form of “green financing” — bonds, loans and other assets earmarked for renewable energy projects around the world.

The rise of the green financing market shows how investors are starting to take renewables more seriously — and it could signal a major transformation of the renewable energy market over the next few years.

Green Finance

Green Financing May Accelerate Renewable Energy Projects

Green financing is a catch-all term for investment in financial vehicles related to renewables and other green industries. Assets, bonds and funds related to renewable energy and other green investments make up the green financing market. In recent years, a robust green financing market has become widely viewed as essential to accelerating the development of new renewable energy technology projects.

Green finance is growing fast. In 2012, the sustainable debt market — including “green” and sustainable bonds and loans — was worth only around $10 billion, according to data from BloombergNEF. In 2018, just six years later, the market was worth nearly $250 billion.

Most of these gains came in the form of new green bonds (sometimes also called “climate bonds”), which are fixed-income investments designed to raise money for new renewable energy projects.

The growth of green financing represents a slow but noticeable divestment away from fossil fuels.

The pivot may also represent a change in how businesses are structured. The growing popularity of bonds as an investment vehicle may enable community co-ops rather than corporations to become a more viable business model for renewable energy providers. For example, the Westmill Solar Cooperative in the United Kingdom has raised more than £6 million ($7.94 million) through bonds offered to investors.

While coil, oil and natural gas are likely to remain a good investment in the short-term, the strength of the green financing market does seem like a signal that, over the next 10 to 20 years, non-renewables will become less and less tempting for investors compared to renewable and sustainable investments.

How Green Financing May Change Energy Around the World?

As the green finance market grows, regulators are beginning to codify what counts as a green investment.

In the EU, for example, regulators recently debated whether plastics manufactured from entirely recycled materials could count as a “sustainable” investment under European finance laws.

These new definitions and regulations may determine which industries receive major funding and which are left out of the green financing boom.

Nuclear energy, for example, is generally not regarded as renewable energy, but is sometimes considered sustainable. Nuclear power plants generate waste, but they also produce zero emissions, unlike fossil fuel-fired power plants.

Natural gas is also not considered renewable or sustainable, as it is a fossil fuel and produces significant carbon emissions when burned for power. However, some proponents of the energy source argue that it should be considered sustainable, as it produces significantly less carbon dioxide than similar fossil fuels.

green-financing

In 2019, EU regulators reached a deadlock over whether or not nuclear and natural gas power plants should count as sustainable investments. In a final compromise, EU lawmakers ruled that both nuclear and natural gas projects were neither included nor excluded in the definition of sustainable by default. Instead, projects would need to prove that they “do no harm” on a case-by-case basis.

Similar rulings and legal challenges could shape the future of energy as governments around the world grapple with the challenge of shifting away from fossil fuels.

A Coming Sustainable Energy Revolution

The rise of the green finance market may change what alternative energy looks like around the world. Legal debates over what should count as “renewable” or “sustainable” may affect which projects receive funding, while bonds and loans may make community cooperatives that provide renewable energy more practical.

As fossil fuels become less attractive to investors and the renewable energy market grows, green financing is likely to have major impacts on the future of renewables.