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How robotics is transforming the renewable energy industry

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How robotics is transforming the renewable energy industry

To an extent, pop culture may have succeeded in shaping many people’s perceptions of robots.

With movies such as Terminator, Star Wars, and the like, it is no wonder that some see robots as dangerous technological ventures that will possibly destroy the entire human race, overpower puny humans and then take over the planet earth.

Even with this paranoia, modern times have seen incredible technological advancement such that robotics has moved beyond being mere fiction to reality.

Robotics, which refers to the design and use of machines (robots, drones, etc) to perform tasks done traditionally by human beings, is gaining even more popularity with use cases in the automotive, manufacturing, health, and commercial sectors.

Interestingly, robots can also perform menial household chores like vacuuming and dishwashing. Since its application is quite broad, robotics is not strange to engineers and environmentalists within the renewable energy industry.

Is the use of robotics in renewable energy environmentally possible? Well, as far back as 2011, researchers discovered areas in which robotics could contribute to sustainable development. Importantly, they also noted that it is a useful tool for managing alternative power generation devices.

Renewable energy is sourced from the sun, water, wind, geothermal heat, and other various biomass energies.

As such, companies in the sector deploy robots and automation to augment the methods of energy generation to improve the efficiency of alternative energy systems, enhance worker’s productivity, and reduce maintenance costs among other benefits.

Consider the following areas in which robotics is changing the renewable energy industry.

Solar

Globe News Wire has it that the global Solar Energy Market was estimated at US$50 billion in 2019 and is predicted to reach US$200 billion by 2026.

Having this projection in mind, companies in the solar energy manufacturing space are applying robots and automation to make smart and instant production decisions, allowing them to meet the growing market needs.

Some of the tasks robots perform are handling, assembly, and finishing solar products. They are also relied on to help to clean photovoltaic solar panels modules with little to no supervision.

Wind

Have you ever seen a wind turbine? It’s that fan-like device that converts the wind’s kinetic energy into electrical energy. So, when it’s time for inspection, drones come in handy.

Credit: bbc.co.uk

For example, unlike manual wind turbine inspection that is at best time consuming and at worst risky, that’ll require a rope to carry out wind turbine inspection, the use of drones makes the work go faster.

Also, with drones, the time required to paint, sand, and polish turbine blades is cut down from days to hours, allowing for more production to be done in a short time.

Hydropower

Similar to the way wind turbines help to generate power, hydroelectric turbines, through the part called wickets are important for regulating the inflow of water. Robots are used for the fabrication of this part of hydroelectric turbines.

Credit: nsenergy.com

Since hydro dams are deeply submerged into murky waters, underwater robotic vehicles have been designed specifically to perform maintenance functions.

If there’s damage, these robots also serve as a cutting-edge resource that can gather detailed high-intensity imaging, and data that will identify, measure, and record the exact location of faults, corrosion or obstructions as the case may be.

As demonstrated, robotics and automation play crucial roles in the processes of harnessing renewable energy. According to the International Energy Agency, the energy industry holds the key to responding to the world’s climate challenge.

By fully leveraging the power of robotics, the sector grows we can hope that the global zero-emission target is reached.

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