LEICESTER, England, October 15, 2015 /PRNewswire/ --
In what is believed to be the first of its type and the largest in the UK, overhead power lines across the East and South East have been surveyed by high-tech radar planes. UK Power Networks, which owns and operates the electricity networks in the East of England, London and the South East, teamed up with solutions specialist ADAS and aerial photography firm Bluesky to begin work on the survey in July last year.
The surveying equipment illuminates targets with a laser and analyses the reflected light, revealing the exact distance of vegetation from overhead lines. If trees or other vegetation come into contact with power lines it can cause power cuts. The highly accurate data has enabled UK Power Networks to devise a three-year tree cutting programme in areas where tree branches could touch or damage cables in high winds.
Bluesky's aircraft flew the 34,000 kilometres of overhead lines in just three months within tight project deadlines, in challenging weather conditions and in adherence with strict Air Traffic Control restrictions, capturing 80 terabytes of raw data including 310,000 aerial images.
This information has now been incorporated into a 3D web portal, enabling UK Power Networks to carry out virtual patrols of the network, saving time and reducing the risk of foot patrols - sometimes across difficult terrain.
"This innovative GBP 2.5 million project is of immense benefit to our customers and to the company," said Nigel Hall, head of service development at UK Power Networks. "The risk-based tree-cutting programme will help reduce tree-related power cuts.
"As a company it will help us get best value from our GBP 19 million annual tree cutting budget, and the web portal will mean staff can carry out 'virtual patrols' from their desks, saving them time and reducing the potential hazards if they had had to walk the lines themselves."
Rachel Tidmarsh, managing director of Bluesky, added: "The capture of LiDAR and associated aerial photography for the entire catchment area allows for evidence based decision making and long term planning, and provides a proven solution for other network operators."
Roy Dyer, head of arboriculture at ADAS said, "This has been a ground breaking contract. The combination of Bluesky's technical ability and ADAS' consultancy experience in managing vegetation near overhead lines enabled us to successfully deliver this challenging contract and improve the management and resilience of the overhead lines owned by UK Power Networks."