Bluesky Maps the Impact of Vegetation on UK Power Networks Electricity Lines
Leicestershire, Oct. 7, 2015—Bluesky has completed a multi-million pound aerial mapping project to assess the impact of vegetation on the electricity network of East Anglia and the South East of England. Working on behalf of UK Power Networks, Bluesky undertook the largest ever combined laser mapping and aerial photography survey commissioned by an electricity distribution network operator in the UK – some 34,000 square kilometres.
The laser mapped (LiDAR) data and aerial photographs were then analysed to assess the proximity of vegetation to the overhead power lines in order to create a proactive three-year vegetation management programme. Bluesky worked in partnership with ADAS, an agricultural and environmental consultancy, to complete the project.
Dedicated survey planes equipped with a state of the art the LiDAR mapping system and aerial survey equipment flew the whole of the South East and East of England. Capturing millions of individual laser mapped height measurements and approximately 310,000 aerial images in just over three months, Bluesky successfully completed the unprecedented data capture element of the project within tight project deadlines, in challenging weather conditions and in adherence with strict Air Traffic Control restrictions.
The 80 terabytes of raw data was then processed and analysed to identify which overhead line spans had vegetation infringement; for example the length of vegetation infestation along each span and its location and distance from the overhead line.
This information has now been incorporated into a 3D web portal that can be viewed from the desktop, enabling UK Power Networks employees to carry out virtual patrols of the network, saving time and reducing the risk of foot patrols, sometimes across difficult terrain including physical barriers such as rivers, ditches, livestock and numerous other potential hazards.
“This innovative £2.5 million project is of immense benefit to our customers and to the company,” said Colin Barden, head of network operations at UK Power Networks. “The risk-based tree-cutting programme will help reduce tree-related power cuts for customers, with the additional benefit that it could be carried out without any disturbance to local landowners because it was done from the air rather than on foot.
“As a company it will help us get best value from our £19 million annual tree cutting budget, and the web portal will mean staff can carry out ‘virtual patrols’ from their desk, saving them time and reducing the potential hazards if they had to walk the lines themselves.”
Rachel Tidmarsh, managing director of Bluesky, added: “Prior to commissioning the LiDAR and aerial mapping project, UK Power Networks undertook regular manual surveys as part of its assessment of network resilience, but 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 in ADAS and manager of the ADAS contribution to this contract 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.”
In order to capture highly accurate LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) data a survey aircraft equipped with a system of lasers is used. Lasers are transmitted to the ground and the time taken for the beam to be bounced back to the aircraft-mounted receivers is recorded. Using the known position of the aircraft (derived from on-board satellite positioning equipment), the time taken for the return of the laser beam and the known value of the speed of light, the distance between the aircraft and ground is calculated. Readings can also be taken to determine the height of buildings, vegetation and other surface structures such as above ground pipelines, highways, street furniture, power lines and railway tracks.
Bluesky is a UK-based specialist in aerial survey. including aerial photography, LiDAR and thermal data using the very latest survey technology, including two UltraCam Eagles and an Orion M300 LiDAR system. An internationally recognised leader with projects extending around the globe, Bluesky is proud to work with prestigiousorganisations such as Google, the BBC and Government Agencies.
Bluesky has unrivalled expertise in the creation of seamless, digital aerial photography and maintains national “off the shelf” coverage of aerial photography, DTM and DSM through an on-going three-year update programme. By purchasing a world first sensor for the simultaneous capture of LiDAR, Thermal and Aerial Photography data, Bluesky is in the enviable position of being able to provide customers with unique and cost effective solutions.
Bluesky is also leading the way in developing innovative solutions for environmental applications, including the UK’s first National Tree Map (NTM), solar mapping and citywide ‘heat loss’ maps, and is currently developing noise and air quality mapping products.
ADAS is the UK’s largest independent provider of agricultural and environmental consultancy, rural development services and policy advice. ADAS has a unique combination of insight and practical experience, underpinned by robust, informed, science-based information that allows the company to meet the needs of both its domestic and international clients. ADAS’s great strength is its breadth and depth of expertise spanning the entire environmental sector.
ADAS provide environmental consultancy to all the Electricity Distribution Network Operators. The main services supplied are strategic and operational vegetation management consultancy, ecological and archaeological surveys and the full range of wayleave services.
UK Power Networks distributes more than a quarter of the UK’s electricity through its networks of substations, underground cables and overhead lines ,making sure the lights stay on across London, the South East and the East of England, regardless of who customers pay their energy bills to. A range of other companies deliver power to the rest of the country.
UK Power Networks’ 5,600 employees are dedicated to delivering a safe, secure electricity supply to 8.1 million homes and businesses.
The industry regulator Ofgem sets an allowed revenue to distribution companies so that they can maintain safe and reliable electricity supplies. UK Power Networks invests more than £500 million in its electricity networks every year, offers extra help to vulnerable customers at times of need, and is undertaking trials to ensure that electricity networks support the transition to a low carbon future. It also moves cables and connects new electricity supplies.
If customers are unfortunate enough to be affected by a power cut or have another issue with the electricity supply to their property, they should contact UK Power Networks by phone, text message, twitter, Facebook or letter.