SP Energy Networks has announced that it will use modern drone technology to inspect its electricity transmission network
The company is currently using a fleet of drones to perform condition-based assessments across the SP Transmission network, which covers Central and Southern Scotland.
Previous inspection work was done solely using helicopters to visually assess towers on the company’s transmission network.
In addition to reducing costs, using drones will help deliver environmental benefits. The company claimed that this will help contribute to its Net Zero emissions targets.
SP Energy Networks Transmission Director Pearse Murray said: “It’s a massive undertaking to complete the regular inspection of the many towers on our transmission network but the drone technology represents a significant step forward for a number of reasons.
“Firstly, it’s hugely beneficial for the environment and the imagery we obtain is of a high standard due to the flexibility of the drones in assessing tower conditions, meaning we can make even more informed decisions.
“Following the successful trial, we also realised that the drones dramatically minimise the impacts on landowners and make it much easier to arrange access to land when we require it.”
To perform the work, SP Energy Networks has partnered with drone inspection firm Cyberhawk. The company will use its iHawk software to collect data against 85 different points on the towers.
By doing so, SP Energy Networks can assess any network risk and inform future investment, enhancing network resilience, integrity, and security.
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Cyberhawk CEO Chris Fleming said: “By partnering with Cyberhawk, SP Energy Networks has chosen a more environmentally conscious solution for inspecting its electrical network and structures, supporting its commitment to significant emissions reductions, while returning more accurate results through our state-of-the-art drone inspection technology and iHawk software.
“This has also assisted SP Energy Networks in maintaining critical inspection services throughout the coronavirus pandemic, helping to keep the lights on for millions of customers in the UK and ensuring safe operations across its network.”
Cyberhawk has secured a contract until the end of 2022 for the condition-based inspection work through a competitive tender process.
Due to the success of the partnership with Cyberhawk, SP Transmission is also expanding its own fleet of drones to assist with network risk assessment and planning.