SEOUL, Feb. 28 (Korea Bizwire) — A state-run utility firm said Wednesday it will use drones to more efficiently manage coal yards and improve safety for workers as it steps up investment to adopt more unmanned systems in other power plants.
The Korea South-East Power Co. demonstrated a drone flight at its coal power plant in Samcheonpo, 450 kilometers southeast of Seoul. The plant’s coal yard is about the size of seven football pitches and can handle 60,000 tons of coal daily.
The drone, which is capable of taking aerial shots of the coal yard, will be used to manage stock and check the self-igniting temperature of coal, the firm said.
The utility firm said it will invest 3 billion won (US$2.7 million) by 2020 to improve the unmanned aerial vehicle’s performance and apply the system in its other coal plants. It currently has four drones and plans to obtain over 20.
The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said it will put a concerted effort into assisting drone developers and energy companies build more efficient maintenance systems to further stimulate the emerging industry.
“As drone use in energy management has been proven economically viable, the government will speed up commercialization and explore opportunities overseas,” the ministry said in a statement.
The Korea Power Electric Corp., which has been using 37 drones for system maintenance since May 2016, earlier said it plans to acquire 30 more to deploy to all power substations and electricity distribution centers beginning in 2019.
The Korea Gas Safety Corp., which is currently running a test program with three drones, is also seeking ways to use the machines to check gas pipelines on bridges and to film the sites of gas leaks.