Ensure Reliable Power Production Amid Energy Uncertainty

When flipping on a light switch, most of us don’t think twice about it. Having access to electricity and power is something that many of us take for granted. However, for countries spanning across Europe, it is currently a much different story with nations struggling to heat their homes and keep businesses running as the ongoing energy crisis ensues. In this blog, learn more about the current energy crisis and how accurate, reliable inspection data can help countries protect themselves from outages, unexpected maintenance, and disruptions.

Unexpected Repairs Lead to Wavering Power Supplies

France has the world’s largest share of nuclear power in total electricity generation and has exported electricity to several other European countries for many years. However, it was recently reported that nearly 60% of French nuclear power generation was offline for maintenance—majority of which was caused by corrosion issues inside the plant. 

With more than half of their nuclear reactors down for maintenance checks and structural repairs, France is struggling to produce enough electricity to meet their own needs, let alone provide power to other countries—making blackouts across Europe a real possibility. This challenge is compounded by political conflict, economic slowdowns, and Europe’s push to cut ties with Russian oil and gas. Many countries are left scrambling to source and generate power, especially as the winter months near with heightened energy consumption levels. 

The scarcity of energy isn’t bound to only the countries dependent on France’s nuclear power. This escalating situation is unfolding across several major European countries. Sweden, another leading power exporter, recently turned to utilizing their old oil-fired power plants that date back to the early 1970s in an attempt to support power demands. Any unexpected repairs that may arise could mean extensive shutdowns and outages. The potential risk brought on by aging, unreliable infrastructure amplifies the ongoing strain on power.

How to Mitigate Risks with Robotic Inspection Data

The energy deficit underscores the importance of keeping critical assets operating safely and reliably. Fortunately, there are methods that exist today to get ahead. By performing thorough routine inspections of assets, facilities can move away from being reactive when assets fail to taking a more proactive maintenance approach. 

Whether a plant utilizes renewable fuels, fossil fuels, wind, solar, hydro, or nuclear energy to generate power, corrosion and other types of damage will occur that affect the structural integrity and reliability of assets. Routine inspections enable facilities to understand the current health of their assets and create prioritized maintenance timelines for repairs. A facility can implement inspection techniques to measure, identify, and monitor these degradation patterns to reduce and avoid costly downtime. However, not all inspection methods are equally effective. 

Robotic inspections provide robust amounts of information through continuous data capture at speeds significantly faster than traditional manual methods. The data captured by the robots populates a software platform to create accurate 2D and 3D data visualizations of the analyzed structures. Facilities can utilize the data to gain visibility into the current state of their assets and pinpoint early signs of damage to make informed decisions about maintenance and repairs before problems occur.

For example, Gecko Robotics performs ultrasonic testing with robots that climb a wide range of assets to gather data with their every move. As the robots climb, they scan for changes in thickness, cracks, corrosion, blistering, and other vulnerabilities to deliver an unprecedented understanding of asset health. 

Data is King

The more we know about our infrastructure, the better we can protect it for seamless, uninterrupted operation and longer life cycles. With winter on the horizon in Europe, it becomes even more crucial to properly maintain the critical power assets that keep the world running. Timely access to actionable inspection data removes the guesswork and informs confident decision-making, ensuring assets operate efficiently, reliably, and accurately today and over time.

Discover how Gecko Robotics helped a major power plant reduce downtime in this case study.

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