LONDON–Technavio’s latest market research report on the global solar-powered UAV market provides an analysis of the most important trends expected to impact the market outlook from 2017-2021. Technavio defines an emerging trend as a factor that has the potential to significantly impact the market and contribute to its growth or decline.
One of the key drivers contributing to the growth of the global solar-powered UAV market is the focus on greater use of renewable energy sources. For ages, to drive any kind of engine or motor, the best-known source of energy is fossil fuels. Owing to their consumption levels reaching extremes, they are currently experiencing threats of extinction. Therefore, the focus on the use of renewable energy or alternative energy derived from replenishable sources is rising.
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The three emerging market trends driving global solar-powered UAV market according to Technavio research analysts are:
- Advancements in solar power technologies
- Emergence of hybrid drones
- Increasing deployment of UAVs in emerging nations
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Advancements in solar power technologies
Many private and government entities are developing and adopting new, advanced, and innovative solar energy-based technologies such as solar-powered UAVs. This is because the concerns over growing depletion of fossil fuels and concerns relating to climate change due to increased CO2 emissions by the aviation industry (one of the factors) is rising. Several advancements have been achieved by the power generation capacity of solar energy.
According to Moutushi Saha, a lead analyst at Technavio for defense research, “Solar energy has been extensively used for numerous applications such as generation of power for buildings, heating water, and solar cooking for many years. Aircrafts are also integrating solar cell technology without affecting their payload or aerodynamics. For instance, an American-based start-up, Alta Devices, developed thin layers or sheets of solar cells using gallium arsenide, which can be easily integrated into curved and limited-area surfaces.”
Emergence of hybrid drones
Previously, only one kind of propulsion system was used to drive the drones and either electricity, battery, or gasoline were used to fuel them. Over time, there has been a development of hybrid drones owing to the advancements in the field of drones. There are two types of energy sources on which the hybrid drones run. They are either gasoline and electricity, or solar cell technology coupled with energy storage batteries, or solar cell technology coupled with a gasoline propulsion system.
“In 2017, Skyfront launched a long-endurance, hybrid gasoline-electric quadrotor called Skyfront Tailwind. It can fly for up to five hours and possesses the capability of vertical take-off and landing. Similarly, hybrid UAVs that will use solar cell technology and new energy storage and propulsion technologies, are being developed by the University of Minnesota so that a full-day or multi-day flight can be achieved,” says Moutushi.
Increasing deployment of UAVs in emerging nations
In emerging countries, there has been a rapid increase in the use of UAVs. During the forecast period, the demand for both conventional and technologically advanced UAVs is expected to rise because of the continuing regional tensions, coupled with the need for enhanced surveillance.
In African countries, there is an increased demand for UAVs, specifically for defense applications. Several developed countries have volunteered to cater to this demand. For instance, in a trade conference held in Pretoria, South Africa, in May 2016, 20 UK-based companies stated their interest to expand businesses and establish partnerships with local companies in the country.
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