Mind-Blowing Applications for Trump’s Defense Spending Plan
Editor’s Note: In the spirit of President’s Day, today we’re talking about a hot topic in President Trump’s campaign… and how it’s affecting the energy and resource sectors.
It’s no secret that Trump is a fan of the U.S. military.
In fact, during his campaign, he argued we needed to boost U.S. military spending by $500 billion.
A large chunk of that money is going into developing a subsector of technology that is also benefiting energy companies and the oil and gas industry…
– Rachel Gearhart, Managing Editor
The energy sector has begun to show signs of life again. That’s partially thanks to the fact that it’s embraced a unique segment of the tech market…
It’s a segment that’s enamored everyone from military leaders to average citizens…
Drones are being used by average Joes for a variety of things. Some are annoying and intrusive, like the drones that have hampered some efforts out West to battle forest fires.
Others are mind-blowing, like the ones sharing videos from inside fireworks displays and just above whale migrations.
But it’s energy companies that seem to offer the most exciting applications for drones.
With high-tech cameras and sensors, drones can examine arrays and look for defective panels, inspect turbines, check power lines, and monitor oil and gas pipelines.
In 2014, a small company called Skycatch, which specializes in drones, signed several test deals with solar companies – First Solar (Nasdaq: FSLR) and SolarCity (Nasdaq: SCTY) – as well as two large construction companies.
And in an environment where energy companies are forced to cut costs, drones are poised to become big players in the industry.
There’s even a company that already has a line of drones specifically for the oil and gas industry… AeroVironment (Nasdaq: AVAV).
And General Electric (NYSE: GE) has a $125 million segment that is rolling out drones for the oil and gas sector as well.
Drones can be used to monitor coastlines, look for ice, survey spills, detect leaks, map terrain, assess pipelines and fields, and provide security functions.
An energy company operating in the Arctic Ocean recently purchased a number of drones to track icebergs. It plans to place a GPS device on each iceberg, using drones, and then track them. It is basically traffic control for icebergs. If one of them gets too close to the company’s operations, the company will send out a boat and push the iceberg out of the way.
At the moment, pipeline surveys are largely done by helicopters and fixed-wing planes. That looks like it could soon be an old-fashioned process… a forgotten piece of the past.
The Federal Aviation Administration recently gave more than 1,000 exemptions for drone use in the United States. Some of those are for the inspection of power lines, towers and pipelines.
As a whole, the commercial drone industry is expected to be worth $14 billion annually by 2024. Some of that spending will be driven by the need to take boring, tedious and dangerous tasks currently done by humans and give them to unmanned aircraft.
As energy companies face revenue crunches, they’re going to need to rely on new ways to be more efficient and cost-effective. And drones allow them to do that.