DELIVERING VALUE IN A HIGHLY COMPETITIVE sector

THE energy INDUSTRY

As the global economy grows, so too does the global demand for electricity. This has been true even with the setback of the COVID-19 pandemic, with energy demand rebounding robustly in 2021 and into 2022. Decade-by-decade demand will be in constant ascendancy, which means that competition will remain high in the energy sector, especially as renewable energy gains momentum in the national grids of many countries.

THE CHALLENGE

Accurate and reliable inspections of energy generation and distribution facilities are crucial for reliably and safely transmitting electricity to customers. The repetitive nature of inspection rounds in energy production facilities creates a waning attention risk for human inspectors. Energy production facilities and power plants are also often hazardous and remote, making human inspection inconvenient and potentially dangerous.

Shortage of qualified personnel

The cost-effective solution: autonomous robots

  • 100,000 unfilled engineering jobs within 10 years in Germany
  • 10,900 new electrical and electronic engineers were required to replace those retiring in 2018 alone
  • Robots can be deployed at lower costs compared to inspections undertaken manually by personnel in order to collect high-quality data in remote locations

Deploying Spot at a hydroelectric plant in the Alps

“Inspection and maintenance of the electricity power grid can be a risky, time consuming and sometimes an inaccessible task...robots can minimize human interaction with High Voltage (HV) equipment and make the process of regular maintenance easier...The benefits of using robots in substations, not only [keeps] human workers out of danger, but the frequency of inspections can be increased without compromising system reliability, and shutdowns can be reduced”
Power Technology Research, April 2021

Safety and environmental risks

Constantly monitor vital parameters through frequent and accurate autonomous inspection

  • A transformer has an average 4 percent risk of fire over a typical 40-year service life
  • SF-6 gas: Common insulating material in the power sector, but also the most toxic greenhouse gas known to humanity, with 23,000 times more global warming potential than carbon dioxide
  • Early detection of gas leaks and constant monitoring of gas gauges through autonomous robots ensure minimized risks of explosion or fire
At substations, the leading risks are fire, explosion, theft of copper cables and other valuable assets and leaks of the highly potent global warming gas that is sulfur hexafluoride (SF 6).

Monitor transformers accurately and frequently to prevent overheating

Thermal detection of Transformer
Constantly monitor silica gel dehumidifiers to ensure proper cooling
Monitor premises by regularly checking the gate and perimeter fence for break-ins
Monitor oil-level frequently to ensure proper functioning of oil-cooled transformers

The repetitive nature of routine inspections has a waning attention-related risk for employees

Robots reliably perform inspection tasks with the highest degree of accuracy

  • It is well-established that human error is the most significant risk in any industrial setting
  • Robots are ideal for repetitive and tedious jobs, such as routine inspections
  • Once trained on a mission path, robots can repeatedly perform the mission autonomously and reliably without need for further interventions for acquired tasks

Robots relieve humans from tedious and repetitive tasks, allowing them to focus on more fulfilling work

Robots can be trained within minutes to perform inspection missions

A 2021 report published by Allied Market Research calculated that the global inspection robots market, which generated $940.0 million in 2020, should be expected to reach $13.94 billion by 2030. That equates to an impressive a CAGR of 30.9% between 2021 and 2030.
Journal of Petroleum Technology (JPT), April 2021

Increase in renewable energy 

Entails an increase in remote renewable energy transmission facilities, which can be inspected by robots autonomously and cost-effectively

  • 45% of the current German national grid is from renewable sources
  • Both in Germany and internationally, hundreds of thousands of small installations for renewables transmission are projected to be added to the grid in the coming decade, with, for example, over 1.7 million solar PV installations and over 29,000 onshore wind turbines already existing in Germany by 2020
  • Robots can be deployed in these substations, thus reducing travel and personnel expenses

The rise in renewable energy has led to an increased number of power transmission facilities in remote areas

Rover inspecting a remote substation

A 2020 report by Frost & Sullivan, titled “Growth Opportunities from Decarbonization in the Global Power Market, 2019-2030,” estimated that an estimated $3.4 trillion will be invested in renewable energy during the next decade, including $2.72 trillion in solar and wind technologies. Furthermore, the report estimates that 54.1% of total installed capacity will be renewable (including hydropower) by 2030.

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We at Energy Robotics are in the business of developing and providing cutting-edge software solutions that enable robots to undertake intelligent, customized inspections at clients’ facilities. These solutions can be adapted to a host of different electrical production and distribution facilities, including substations, power generation plants, hydroelectric plants and solar or wind farms.

Our SaaS solution is revolutionizing how inspections are undertaken at electricity-generating and distribution facilities worldwide.

Some sites can be so remote that simply getting to them on a regular basis for inspections can be extremely difficult and inefficient to achieve. Inclement weather, resulting in heavy snowfall in winter or heavy rains in summer, for example, can also impede the viability of employees undertaking inspections. Embedded with our software, robots can perform continuous inspection tasks without any problem, something that an employee would find difficult to do in terms of time and logistics.

Energy Robotics |
Energy

Furthermore, you can even send robots into a toxic or radioactive environment to do inspections. The beauty of using a four-legged robot like Spot is that it can actually work in a human environment by climbing stairs and navigating through narrow spaces, in a way that robots with tracks or wheels are unable to do. Check out how Spot inspects a hydropower plant in the Alps.

For outdoor inspections, such as those at open-air sub-stations, the Rover robot is an excellent option. Rover is a robust, military-grade robot that can conduct inspections in any weather condition. It’s a cost-efficient robot that is ideal for capturing high-quality data and implementing predictive maintenance.

Improving Substation Inspections and Surveillance: E.DIS & Energy Robotics

A pilot project in which our software was successfully implemented was in collaboration with the German electricity company, E.DIS, at a substation of theirs in Altentreptow, located in eastern Germany. The purpose of the proof of concept project was to test the efficacy of using autonomous robot technology for inspections at a substation. 

E.DIS chose Energy Robotics on the basis that we offer a software platform that seamlessly combines autonomous robotic technology with cloud-based fleet management and sophisticated AI-derived analytics.

The precise readings of analogue measuring instruments as part of ongoing inspections was important for the client. E.DIS was also keen to assess the use of an autonomous robot for the purpose of safety surveillance on the site, such as whether security doors were properly locked or parameter fencing intact, given that security is a concern at any substation. Our software platform used in tandem with a Spot robot was able to achieve these and other outcomes at the E.DIS substation.

As of late 2021, the ongoing project was considered a success, with plans to roll out similar autonomous robotic inspection and surveillance  projects at other E.DIS substations in Germany.

A further tremendous benefit for any client that uses our software is that the onboarding of different robots onto an existing fleet they might have is a smooth, hassle-free process.

Our successful pilot project at the E.DIS substation has proven yet again that autonomous robots enabled with our software equates to improved inspections and asset integrity, as well as greater safety, at any facility.

Our customers in in the energy industry:

We at Energy Robotics know how robotics enhanced with our software can greatly transform how substations, power generating plants and other electrical installations operate. This we have achieved with great success in the energy industry by offering the following:

Autonomous inspections by leading robotic technology
Robots with intuitive, exponential learning capabilities
Human-free inspections in highly hazardous locations
Customised Skills for points-of-inspection solutions
Software solutions that facilitate:
  • data collection from inspection points
  • real-time and cumulative data analytics
  • real-time, data-driven decision-making processes
  • enhanced predictive capabilities
  • enhanced protection and upkeep of valuable, often very costly and complex assets
  • overall improved plant safety, including surveillance capabilities at substations and other sensitive electrical installations

Energy Robotics |
We Make the Difference

Our Stats:

50+

robots deployed in 4 continents

50.000

hours of deployment in various facilities

40.000

points of interest recorded