White Paper: Drones Shine Bright in the Solar Industry

Excerpt from the White Paper

Executive summary and key takeaways

Drones are ready to be deployed at scale by solar companies. Their ability to provide insights on large-scale terrains or solar plants makes them an ideal candidate to assist solar companies in the design and operation of plants. However, their actual deployment by solar companies is not as widespread as one may think.

In this research, Inflights documented the current attitude of solar installers towards using drones at various stages of the life cycle of solar installations. Using interviews with representatives of the solar industry, this research confirmed that commercial-scale solar companies are excited to use drones as a key tool for various use cases. They are used for a variety of use cases, ranging from business development to design, surveying, construction management and site monitoring. The most common use case is the obtaining of detailed site-information, both for ground-mounted systems and rooftop installations. In this context they are cost-effective when compared to traditional methods, generating the highest cost savings for complex and large terrains.

Nevertheless, doubts about regulation and the ability to easily source and integrate drone-services in the existing workflow remain some of the main reasons for many experts not to launch experiments with drones. As a result, only 47% of solar companies have actively started using them.

As the solar industry is expected to remain a competitive market where cost savings and efficiency gains are important, further development of the drone ecosystem for the solar industry can be expected. Drone service providers will continue to work on smoothening the whole experience of using drone services. Optimizations are possible to enable seamless sourcing, hereby optimizing the whole ecosystem, providing end-to-end services starting at convenient procurement of services to seamless execution of the flight and postprocessing of the data.

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A Special Thank You

Inflights extends its appreciation to our partners, customers, and leaders from these great companies for participating in this white paper study. Understanding how experiences vary with using drones in different project stages is critical for the advancement of solar in the energy industry overall.

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