Innovative 3D laser mapping technology helps reduce power cuts

23/12/2020

We have invested £2.3M in cutting-edge technology that uses small planes to fly over the power network creating 3D maps of electricity lines to increase resilience throughout the winter months and beyond.

We have undertaken extensive trials of the 3D LiDAR technology that was developed by world leading geo-data specialist Fugro to reduce the risk of power cuts and maximise the electricity network’s resilience. This winter the technology is being rolled out to reduce potential storm damage.

The innovative technology captures LiDAR data and aerial imagery to produce a perfect 3D map of the electricity network, down to the closest centimetre. The virtual model provides a full 3D view of buildings and trees to replace traditional on-site surveys that would have audited vegetation and inform ground clearance management.

Lidar

Previously, we would have carried out all vegetation management reporting using a team on the ground with a handheld measuring device. Although we will always require people on the ground, the LiDAR technology provides extremely accurate 3D mapping.

It is also able to identify changes to landscape over time that may impact the condition of the network – for example, whether trees and vegetation are growing increasingly close to overhead power lines. When it grows too close, the vegetation is trimmed.

Liam O’Sullivan, SP Manweb Director at SP Energy Networks, said: “The landscapes around our network are constantly changing, which can cause issues if we are unable to identify potential faults or hazards ahead of time. The LiDAR technology creates agile and precise maps that help us predict everything from tree growth to new infrastructure required.

Liam

“We know from experience that the worst winter storms can result in some power loss particularly when major lines are hit by trees and other debris brought down by high winds. “By identifying potential risk factors in advance, we can take action ahead of time and reduce the number of impacts when the weather takes a turn for the worse.

 “We are acutely aware of how much more time people spend at home in the current environment, and how crucial those power supplies are to those who rely on still being able to work effectively and carry out other essential daily tasks.

“Technology like LiDAR provides valuable data to help us keep the lights on for customers – allowing us to power their everyday.”

Alongside this major investment, we'd like to remind all customers ahead of the winter season to ensure they keep the national 105 emergency powercut number close to hand so they can call us if their power does go out unexpectedly – no matter who they pay their bill to.

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