Why Hydropower plants need underwater drone inspections

Hydropower is the most commonly used renewable energy source, accounting for around 17% of all global energy production.

In the U.S.A. more electricity is produced by hydroelectric facilities and dams than all the combination wind, solar and geothermal power.

Yet many of these facilities and plants are among the oldest power plants , with the average installation in service for over 64 years.

As these aging structures near the end of their design life, the need to detect repairs is becoming increasingly critical. The pressure is on to continue to keep the lights on, not just for the energy needs of today, but also for the needs of the future.

Utility owners, asset managers and contractors are gradually turning to drones, unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) and remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) fitted with sonar optical sensors, cameras, infrared imaging and other sensors.

These systems provide a safe, secure and cost-effective solution versus hiring or deploying professional dive teams for emergency or routine inspections.

And these underwater 4K drones are playing a key role in Alleviating downtime, reducing outages and preventing disastrous accidents.

There are occasions when an underwater drone ROV is the first and only option. Dropping 100 feet or more below the surface, for instance, is extremely dangerous for traditional divers and manual methods. In deep water situations , enclosed spaces or unknown environments can be extremely dangerous for a diver and only drones can safely do the job.

In comparison to the high costs and lead times associated with professional dive teams, the OoKeani-luure advanced Underwater ROV bundle allows preventive and proactive maintenance checks at any time to prolong the life of the dam or asset.

Many of these facilities were supposed to be replaced by now, so it’s either 24/7/365 proactively monitoring and inspecting or risk a public relations disaster and possible human catastrophe.

Underwater drone ROVs are going to get into tough places at a much lower cost and in a much quicker and efficient way. They help create a strategy for high-priority facilities and structures to decide how to avoid major disasters and what can be left alone for a while.

The ability to remotely assess the condition of hydro structures is incredibly efficient and cost-saving,” Blueye CTO Jonas Follesø said. “The Blueye Pro is small, so it can be easily transported and can inspect inside tight spaces where humans can’t reach. At the same time, it’s also powerful and robust.”

Many regulatory guidelines require asset owners to become increasingly proactive with inspections, thus reliance on underwater inspections utilizing ROVs’ will only increase the added benefits.