The Solar Powered Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Market is expected to grow over the CAGR of around 14.80% during the period 2017 to 2023.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or drones are autonomous aircraft that are remotely controlled from the ground or through onboard computers. Standard UAVs are accessible in numerous sizes. Whereas the large-sized ones, which are utilized for tactical missions, are powered by internal combustion engines, smaller ones are chiefly battery-powered by electric motors. However, since the last decade, the arrival of latest technologies has led to the advent of battery-powered UAVs by photovoltaic cells, hydrogen fuel cells, and hybrid-electric propulsion engines. Solar-powered UAV platforms use photovoltaic panels to soak up energy from the sun and convert it into electricity to thrust their engines.
Among their two applications, military & defense accounts for the larger market share, attributable to the employment of solar-powered UAVs in search and rescue operations, pollution observance, security, disaster management, attack missions, and communications applications. The civil & commercial segment is expected to grow at a faster rate, attributable to the use in skilled aerial photography and surveillance, agriculture, information assortment, recreation and hobby, motion photos filmmaking, journalism, law enforcement, scientific research, conservation, anti-poaching activity, mineral, oil and gas production and exploration, disaster relief, archaeology, traveler transport, and payload transport.
With the rapid advancements in technology, many new types of drones are being developed, such as electric drones. These drones also provide effective military surveillance. Along with technological advancements, these drones are becoming smaller, lighter, more efficient, and cheaper.
Based on region, the global gets fragmented into North America, Asia Pacific, Europe, Middle East & Africa, and Latin America. In the U.S., solar-powered UAVs are in majorly used for military functions. Besides, major nations in North America, such as Canada, Mexico, and Brazil, are increasing their solar-powered UAV investments. The U.S. has been dominating this market, owing to the high investments by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), along with the Department of Defense (DoD).
The use of Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cell system in the solar-powered UAV enables it with an uninterrupted flight capability, for over six months. The Helios prototype was one amongst the earliest solar-powered UAVs (developed by AeroVironment in 1999) that used PEM-based fuel system, with funding from the NASA. Similarly, in 2015, it was reported that Facebook completed the prototyping of Aquila, a solar-powered UAV, which can fly over 11 miles above ground level and provide internet connectivity to regions that lack satellite-based networks.
Although, there have been demonstration flights using solar energy, the concept of solar-powered UAV would require high R&D investments and a large number of solar panels or cells to fly for longer durations. Therefore, it is expected that the market would attract high investments during the forecast period.
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