Drone company Laserpas has completed a powerline inspection for Slovakia utility Západoslovenská distribučná (ZSDIS).
Laserpas said the inspection was able to uncover and provide essential information regarding multiple types of risks to the power grid.
It utilized LiDAR for 2D and 3D distance measurements as well as high-resolution optical cameras and thermal imagery to inspect more than 207 kilometres of high-voltage power lines and more than 32 km of medium-voltage power lines.
Laserpas explained that the project was used “to demonstrate to ZSDIS that airborne inspections from a single overpass can be both cost-competitive and reliable”.
The inspection yielded data on risks posed by railways, roads, trees, vegetation, structures, and water. More than 44,000 square meters of railways and roads were found to be close to power lines, requiring monitoring of line parameters at all times.
Data analysis showed trees with potential risks of falling and breaking lines along with more than 350,000 square meters of vegetation that might cause dangerous risks to the power lines.
“This information, coupled with corrective action from ZSDIS, allows them to drastically improve reliability measures in the area, as vegetation is the main cause of outages in medium and high-voltage networks,” said Laserpas chief executive Mantas Vaskela.
Structures and water were also found to be putting more than 16,000 square meters of lines at risk.
Laserpas performed simulations on the power lines under normal temperatures, 35 degrees Celsius, and 70 degrees Celsius. Those simulations allowed Laserpas to provide ZSDIS with data concerning violations of the ground clearance limit, structure obstructions, road obstructions, and obstructions within intersections of other power lines.
Vaskela added: “It is also worth noting that obstructions caused by power lines being too close to the road can not only be considered extremely dangerous to human life, but also gross negligence by insurance standards, and may leave grid operators exposed if there is an accident. Additionally, the data collected by Laserpas found leaning towers and towers with some extent of corrosion.
ZSDIS head of HV grid management Karol Voros said the drone inspection “project showed us that new disrupting technologies can help DSOs to support data collection, maintenance, and even asset planning, giving a very good alternative to standard visual control methods, such as ground control”.
“While preparation for the project was time demanding – technical data input and specification list for the analysis – the results are promising, and we see the benefits from the reports, working with measured, exact, and objective results.
“The key to success for this method will be making a more user-friendly interface for results and autonomous fault learning mechanisms.”