- These aircraft have been checking over 350 kilometres of power lines in the region since April.
For the last five months, Unión Fenosa Distribución – the electricity distribution subsidiary of GAS NATURAL FENOSA – has been using drones to check the more than 250 kilometres of high-voltage power lines and 1,000 support structures managed by the company in the province of Leon. In this region, drones have been used on over 350 kilometres and checked over 1,800 high-voltage support structures.
The company decided to use this technology due to the numerous advantages it brings. Besides complementing power line supervision activity, which is currently undertaken by operators and helicopter flights, the use of these aircraft has enabled the detection of faults that were difficult to find using traditional inspection techniques.
Trends in electricity asset management
During the presentation of this project, the High-Voltage Grid Director of Unión Fenosa Distribución, Abelardo Reinoso, stressed that “drones increase the safety of overhead power line inspection operations by reducing the amount of work carried out at height”. Furthermore, he went on to add that “the use of drones increases proactivity in power line checking by 20%, improving the efficiency of this type of work”.
The use of unmanned aircraft in the electricity sector represents a new trend in asset management and data capture. A greater focus is being now placed on reducing risk and streamlining costs and execution time, thereby gaining efficiency in maintenance management.
The project team that handles the drone comprises a certified pilot (who flies the aircraft) and an operator who deals with the information collected. The drone is flown up to a maximum height of 50 metres to enable its zoom to focus on the most important parts of the support structure. It collects information on the tower from all angles and focuses on the power cables to display the line trajectory and its surroundings. The drone stores data in visual and thermal formats throughout the process.
Presence in the region
Unión Fenosa Distribución supplies electricity to almost 168,000 supply points in 117 municipalities in the province of Leon via a power grid of almost 7,300 kilometres. In Castile-Leon, the company manages 310,000 supply points in 325 municipalities via a high-, medium- and low-voltage power grid of over 14,300 kilometres.
Leon, 28 September 2016.