Assets in the energy industry require periodic inspections to monitor their health and integrity. These inspection activities are typically performed manually by operators. However, a significant portion of the assets are also elevated and are hard to reach without the use of scaffolding. The use of scaffolding involves a complex process that includes manufacturing, transportation, and other associated logistics. These activities contribute to the carbon footprint related to inspection activities leading to increased emissions. Recently, the use of robotic and automated inspection solutions is being increasingly adopted by energy companies and the overall market as a whole. These advanced solutions could potentially play a valuable role in the reductions in carbon emissions by minimizing both the manufacturing and transporting of scaffolding for inspection activities. In this study, we aim to quantify the environmental benefit of such solutions within the energy industry.

In order to quantify the decrease in carbon emissions, we examine the carbon emissions of extracting raw materials, manufacturing, and transportation of scaffolding. We compare this to the carbon cost of manufacturing batteries and inspection technologies along with their respective power consumption.

Our initial results show that switching from traditional scaffolding techniques to drone-based solutions resulted in approximately a 30-fold decrease in emissions from 4.54kg CO2e per inspection job, if scaffolding is used, to 156 g CO2e using drone-based solutions. This was achieved by minimizing scaffolding manufacturing and transportation activities in comparison to drone manufacturing and power consumption.

Robotic and drone inspection is a recently emerging field that has captured the attention of large energy institutions around the globe. Our study aligns with the ambitious initiatives in reducing carbon emissions and driving a successful transition to sustainable energy. The novelty of this paper is that it analytically investigates the driving force behind the innovative inspection technologies that are recently emerging in the market. Additionally, it quantifies the positive impact of these technologies from the perspective of reducing carbon emissions, leading to sustainable energy.

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