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Aerones: Elevating Wind Energy Efficiency with Cutting-Edge Drone Technology

Written by Maya Belkovska
Published June 28th, 2024
9 min read
Updated July 16th, 2024

Summary

Aerones, founded in Latvia in 2015, revolutionizes wind turbine maintenance with cutting-edge drone technology. Their AI-driven solutions enhance turbine efficiency, reduce downtime, and minimize environmental impact. As wind energy aims to meet over one-third of global electricity demand by 2050, Aerones' innovations are crucial for a sustainable future. Explore Aerones' mission to optimize renewable energy operations and contribute to a carbon-zero world.
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Details

Name
Aerones
Date of establishment
2015-01
Organization

Deep dive

Aerones, founded in Latvia in 2015, is a leader in advanced drone technology for wind turbine maintenance. The company's mission is to revolutionize industrial maintenance through innovative robotics and AI, enhancing efficiency and sustainability in renewable energy operations worldwide. Company specializes in developing high-powered drones capable of performing complex tasks at heights, ensuring optimal performance and longevity of wind turbines while minimizing environmental impact.

Did you know that a single wind turbine can offset over 4,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually? Imagine the impact when optimized for peak efficiency through innovative drone technology. Enter Aerones, pioneering the future of renewable energy maintenance with AI-driven solutions designed to maximize turbine performance and reduce environmental footprint.

Source: Impactful.ninja

Company Background

History

Aerones, founded in 2015 in Latvia, initially focused on developing high-powered drones for extreme sports. Recognizing a greater market opportunity, the company pivoted to industrial applications, particularly in the wind energy sector. By 2017, company introduced its first drone for wind turbine maintenance, offering cleaning and de-icing services. This innovation led to significant growth, attracting attention from major industry players. In 2019, they expanded its services to include detailed inspections and repairs of wind turbines, leveraging advanced robotics and AI technology. The company's notable achievements include securing substantial funding, forming strategic partnerships with leading wind energy firms, and continuously advancing its drone technology to enhance efficiency and safety in turbine maintenance. Company has established itself as a key player in the renewable energy maintenance market, revolutionizing traditional methods with its cutting-edge drone solutions.

Founders and Key Figures

Aerones, headquartered in Riga, Latvia, was co-founded by Dainis Kruze and Janis Putrams. Dainis Kruze, serving as CEO, brings a strong background in engineering and business, directing strategic vision and overall management. Under his leadership, company has led innovation in using drone technology for wind turbine maintenance, emphasizing sustainability. Janis Putrams, co-founder and CTO, contributes extensive technical expertise in robotics and engineering, pivotal in developing companies advanced drone systems. As CTO, Janis oversees the technological development and implementation of company robotic solutions, ensuring they adhere to rigorous standards of efficiency and safety. Additionally, Olegs Jakovlevs as VP Operations and Martins Vaivods as CFO play key roles in driving Aerones' growth and operational excellence.

Funding and Investors

The company has successfully raised funds through various investors, including a €4.4 million grant from the EU's Innovation Fund to support the development of robotic systems for turbine blade repairs​. Earlier, they raised $1.6 million in seed investment from investors such as Change Ventures, YCombinator, and Sensum Group, aimed at enhancing their ground-based robotic systems​​. Aerones’ technology is currently in use across 27 countries, showcasing its global reach and effectiveness.

Products and Services

Core Products/Services

Inspection: Utilizing advanced robotic systems for detailed external and internal inspections of wind turbine blades. Services include lightning protection system inspection, internal inspections with robotic crawlers, and visual inspections with drones​.

Cleaning: Offering robotic cleaning solutions for turbine towers and blades, ensuring minimal downtime and enhanced operational efficiency​​.

Repair: Providing leading-edge repair services, including surface preparation, filler application, sanding, and protective coating application to prevent erosion and extend blade life​.

Smart Inspection Bundle: A comprehensive package combining various inspection services to provide the most detailed health analysis of turbine blades, enabling smarter maintenance and budget planning​​.

Aerones' innovative approach leverages robotics to minimize human risk and reduce downtime, making wind turbine maintenance more efficient and cost-effective. The company's robots can operate in a wide range of conditions, providing robust and reliable service that traditional methods cannot match.

Innovation and Technology

This organization stands out in the field of wind turbine maintenance through its innovative use of technologies:

  • High-Powered Drones: Company designs and manufactures drones with exceptional lifting capabilities, allowing them to carry heavy payloads necessary for maintenance tasks such as cleaning, de-icing, and component replacement on wind turbines. This capability reduces the need for manual labor and improves safety.

  • AI and Machine Learning: The company integrates artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms into their drone systems. These technologies enable them to analyze vast amounts of data collected during inspections and predict potential failures or maintenance needs. This predictive maintenance approach helps optimize turbine uptime and performance.

  • Remote Operation and Automation: Aerones emphasizes remote operation capabilities, enabling their drones to perform tasks autonomously or under minimal human supervision. This automation not only enhances operational efficiency but also reduces labor costs and increases safety by minimizing the need for personnel to work at heights.

  • Advanced Sensor Technology: Organization equips its drones with advanced sensors, including high-resolution cameras, thermal imaging cameras for detecting hot spots, LiDAR for precise measurements, and ultrasonic sensors for detailed inspections. These sensors provide comprehensive data for accurate assessment and maintenance planning.

  • Robotic Arms and Tools: In addition to aerial drones, Aerones utilizes robotic arms and specialized tools that can be deployed for intricate maintenance tasks on wind turbines. These tools are designed to perform repairs and adjustments with precision, improving reliability and extending the lifespan of turbine components.

Through these innovative technologies and approaches, company enhances the efficiency, safety, and sustainability of wind turbine maintenance operations, positioning itself as a leader in the application of robotics in the renewable energy sector.

Case Studies

1. Pre-commissioning and End-of-Warranty Inspections

Aerones provides advanced robotic inspections for wind turbines, focusing on pre-commissioning and end-of-warranty checks. These inspections help identify blade defects and test lightning protection systems (LPS) to prevent potential damage and ensure optimal performance. By performing thorough inspections both before turbines are commissioned and as OEM warranties expire, they ensures that wind turbines operate efficiently and safely. Their technology also enables the creation of digital twins, offering detailed insights into the status of wind parks​

2. Offshore Maintenance Innovations

Company is actively developing a remotely operated robotic system for offshore wind turbine maintenance. This innovative system aims to significantly reduce CO2 emissions, marine pollution, and operational costs while improving safety and efficiency. The company's goal is to adapt its established onshore wind turbine technology for use in offshore environments. This involves creating a robotic access and maintenance system that can operate remotely, minimizing the need for human intervention in challenging offshore conditions.

The project, supported by a substantial grant from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, focuses on reducing crew transfer vessel fuel costs and emissions, decreasing overall project execution times, and extending the service life of turbine blades. Collaborating with industry leaders such as GE Renewable Energy and Tethys Energy Services, Aerones is set to conduct several at-sea trials to bring their onshore solutions to offshore applications. This development is expected to play a crucial role in making offshore wind energy more sustainable and cost-effective, contributing to global climate goals and supporting local coastal infrastructure​​.

3. Internal Blade Inspections

Aerones employs a highly advanced blade crawler for internal wind turbine inspections. This robotic device is remotely operated and performs comprehensive internal assessments using high-definition video and LIDAR scans. These inspections cover up to 85% of the blade, depending on the model, and provide detailed, 360-degree visual and measurement data. This allows for thorough analysis and maintenance, identifying potential issues such as cracks, erosion, or other structural weaknesses that could affect the turbine's performance and lifespan​.

Market Position

Industry Overview

The renewable energy industry, particularly wind energy, has seen significant growth and innovation in recent years. As global efforts to reduce carbon emissions intensify, wind power has emerged as a leading source of clean energy. The industry encompasses the development, installation, and maintenance of wind farms, which generate electricity through wind turbines.

Within this landscape, Aerones specializes in advanced drone and robotic technologies tailored for wind turbine maintenance. Their solutions address key challenges such as inspection, cleaning, de-icing, and minor repairs, crucial for maximizing turbine efficiency and lifespan. By leveraging high-powered drones equipped with AI, machine learning, and specialized sensors, they enhances operational efficiency, safety, and sustainability in wind energy operations.

Company positions itself as a pioneer in integrating robotics into renewable energy maintenance, offering innovative solutions that reduce downtime, optimize energy production, and minimize environmental impact. Their expertise and technology contribute to the industry's goal of scaling renewable energy production worldwide, making wind power more reliable and cost-effective for energy providers globally.

Competitors

Competitors in this niche market could include companies such as:

  1. Skyspecs - Based in the USA, Skyspecs provides autonomous drone inspection solutions for wind turbines.

  2. Aerialtronics - A Dutch company known for its industrial drone solutions, including those for inspections and maintenance.

  3. Cyberhawk - A UK-based company offering aerial inspection and surveying services using drones, including wind turbine inspections.

  4. Inspectahire - Based in Scotland, Inspectahire offers inspection and survey services, including those using drones for industrial applications.

  5. Dronewerkers - A Dutch company specializing in drone services for industrial inspections, including wind turbines.

Challenges

Staying ahead in drone technology demands continuous innovation and substantial investment in research and development, particularly in autonomous flight, sensor technology, and battery efficiency advancements. Navigating the complex regulatory landscapes of different countries is essential when operating heavy-lift drones, ensuring strict compliance with local aviation laws and securing necessary permits. Maintaining rigorous safety and reliability standards is crucial for industrial drone applications, enabling safe operations in adverse weather conditions and remote environments. In a competitive industrial drone market dominated by established players, Aerones aims to differentiate itself through superior technology, service quality, and robust customer support. Educating potential customers on the advantages and cost-effectiveness of drone use, especially for tasks like wind turbine maintenance, requires significant outreach and educational efforts.

Opportunities

The rapid growth in the market for drone-based industrial services, such as inspection and maintenance, presents significant opportunities for company to expand its customer base. With potential for global expansion beyond Latvia, Aerones can tap into international markets where demand for advanced drone solutions is increasing. Diversifying into sectors like infrastructure inspection, agriculture, and disaster response offers avenues for new revenue streams. Strategic partnerships with wind farm operators, energy companies, and other stakeholders can facilitate market penetration and business growth. By leveraging advancements in AI, machine learning, and sensor technology, Aerones can enhance the efficiency and capabilities of its drones, making them more appealing to customers. Addressing these challenges and seizing these opportunities positions company as a leader in delivering innovative and reliable solutions for complex industrial needs.


Maya Belkovska
Written by:
Maya Belkovska
Sustainability Research Analyst at Net Zero Compare
Maya is a Sustainability Research Analyst at Net Zero Compare. She specializes in environmental science and practical compliance with sustainability regulations. Maya provides in-depth analysis and insights to help businesses meet regulatory requirements effectively. Her expertise supports Net Zero Compare’s mission to offer practical solutions in the sustainability sector.