Solar Farm Inspection Market

Goals

Gain an understanding of the market for drone based inspection and thermal imaging reports on solar farms of utility scale, as well as costs and outlook for the two types of services, and deeper information on existing companies in the industry.

Early Findings

  • While there was no market size available solely for solar inspections by drone, the market for utility drone inspections is projected to grow by 28.94% annually, to reach a projected $435 million by 2024.
  • The drone inspection space is expected to grow rapidly in the next several years due to the rapid growth of solar panel installations, up by 81% in 2019 compared to the previous year.
  • Drones are the most efficient tool to inspect a large scale solar farm, as they collect data 50 times more rapidly than manual inspection from the ground.
  • Specifically, an expert source in solar farm inspection notes, "Drones featuring thermal imaging payloads allow operators to perform a full solar farm operation in a matter of hours, compared to days using manual methods. They increase data quantity and quality and reduce costs.
  • Because of the rapid recent growth in solar installations, demand for drone inspection has not yet been met with the majority of solar panel inspections still peformed manually with hand-held thermal cameras.
  • The key drivers for demand of drone over manual include cost efficiency, avoiding human risk, and better quality of information.
  • Using drones for solar panel inspection can allow for a 30-50% cost reduction from manual.
  • The majority of drone operations for commercial and utility-scale solar installations are outsourced to third-party inspection companies.
  • Companies large enough to do drone inspections of their solar panels in-house still tend to outsource data analysis, sending information to a third-party company for processing results.

Proposed next steps:

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